Survey spotlights expected rise in R&D spending

Businesses are planning to increase their spend on R&D in 2011, despite the continuing challenging trading environment, according to a survey by Withers & Rogers.

For the second year running, Withers & Rogers, patent and trade mark attorneys, found 77 per cent of companies saying their R&D spend had increased or stayed the same despite the uncertain economic conditions, and the majority (53 per cent) are expecting to spend more on R&D in the year ahead.

A third of businesses are also expecting to increase the volume of intellectual property (IP) activity next year. Only 13 per cent of companies said they expect to spend less on R&D in 2011.
Karl Barnfather, partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers, said: ‘Our poll suggests businesses are feeling quietly confident about the year ahead, despite concerns about the impact of public-sector spending cuts and continuing global economic uncertainty. This is evident in their intention to increase spend on R&D in 2011 and to extend their IP protection.

‘UK businesses also know how critical innovation is to maintaining and growing market share – by bringing new value-added products and services to market they stand to gain by differentiating their offer and increasing volumes.

‘Businesses are also becoming more knowledge-conscious and the survey reveals that more than one in three UK companies are actively pursuing opportunities to transfer knowledge in order to explore new market opportunities; however, there appears to be plenty of scope for others as 58 per cent say they aren’t looking to do so.’

According to Withers & Rogers, knowledge-transfer activity has picked up sharply over the past year across a variety of markets, but most notably in the advanced engineering sector, where there have been examples of innovations developed for aerospace being applied in the automotive industry and vice versa.

The survey also revealed that while 56 per cent of respondents felt the knowledge in their organisation was adequately protected and had not been lost due to people leaving or job cuts, more than one in four respondents admitted to being vulnerable in this area and 15 per cent did not know either way.