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R&D spending in UK chemicals sector reaches seven-year high of £5.36 billion

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Recent data from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed the UK chemicals sector has increased its annual spending on research and development (R&D) by 3.4%.

Chemicals businesses recorded growth in R&D investment of £175 million (€204.6 million), pushing the overall total to £5.36 billion (€6.26 billion), according to the latest ONS statistics for 2018.

The industry is close to reaching – and surpassing – its all-time high of £5.43 billion (€6.35 billion) recorded in 2011, according to analysis carried out by R&D tax relief specialist Catax.

“The chemicals industry is on a war footing when it comes to keeping Britain at the forefront of this crucial sector,” said Mark Tighe, CEO of Catax. “The industry reached its all-time high for R&D spending in the depths of the last great recession and is again demonstrating that economic uncertainty thanks to Brexit won’t put the shutters on innovation.

“More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders above the long-term average.

“For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU. The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.”