Three from aerospace sector in top 10, but SBAC says government must do more

Aerospace companies occupy three of the top 10 places in the UK Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) 2004 research and development scoreboard, but the government needs to do more to ensure the UK continues to attract R&D investment, according to industry association the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC).

Research rankings

“It’s positive that UK aerospace R&D is high and increasing faster than other areas, but it’s not something we can afford to be complacent about,” the SBAC says.

Year-on-year increases in R&D are due partly to market factors and partly to responses to issues raised by the UK’s Aerospace Innovation and Growth Team (AeIGT), the society says.

“There are very encouraging signs of growth in mid-sized companies,” says Mike Tubbs of the innovation group within the DTI’s business, finance and investment unit. Cobham saw a 21% increase in R&D investment year-on-year, with 5% of sales invested, Meggitt’s R&D investment grew 38% to 5.8% and Ultra Electronics rose by 22%, to 4.8% of sales.

These rises boost aerospace and defence, although it stays number two behind pharmaceuticals and biotechnology in R&D in the UK.

The SBAC says: “One reason the UK is successful is that there is a large number of mid-sized companies that have global reach.” This means they have the choice of where to invest in R&D, and “we need to ensure the UK government is creating the right environment to ensure as much R&D is done in the UK as possible”. Aerospace in the UK accounts for 12% of R&D investment, but just 3% of total sales, among the 750 companies surveyed, the SBAC says.

BAE Systems was the top ranked R&D player within the UK aerospace and defence sector, with 12.2% of 2004 sales invested in research and development. It comes in second in the DTI’s top 1,000 global aerospace and defence companies for R&D, with £1.11 billion ($2.8 billion) invested in 2004.


Source: Flight International