Growth in research and development spend by aerospace outstripped all other sectors last year, with the UK leading the way, according to a study of the world's top 1,250 businesses by the UK Department of Trade and Industry.

The DTI's annual league table reveals that R&D spending by aero­space companies grew 13.5% in 2005-6, with UK firms registering a 25.7% rise.

Of the four companies with an annual R&D spend of more than £1 billion ($1.87 billion), BAE Systems led with growth of 31%, followed by Finmeccanica (20%), Boeing (17%) and EADS (3%).

While the aerospace sector worldwide had an R&D intensity - R&D as a percentage of sales - of 4.6% over the period, UK companies recorded 9%. Among the top 10 aerospace companies, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica had the highest R&D intensities, at 13.2% and 15.6%, respectively.

Aerospace and defence was the eighth-largest R&D sector, worth £10.1 billion and equivalent to 4.1% of total R&D.

US aerospace businesses invested £4.1 billion, while their UK counterparts spent £2 billion - the two largest countries accounting for 60% of sector R&D.

Source: Flight International