The UK software industry now has more professionals engaged in innovative activity than any other sector of the economy and “has eclipsed the once-dominant pharmaceuticals industry”.

That is the key finding from an analysis by SJD Accountancy, which states that the number of UK IT professionals engaged in cutting-edge innovation has hit record levels as software developers ramp up investment. The figures were up 12.5% over the past year to 27,000 staff.

The UK software sector is now spending over £2 billion per annum on R&D, a 7.1% jump from last year, and over £1.2 billion was directly related to staffing costs.

SJD claims that R&D expenditure in the UK pharma sector peaked at £4.9 billion in 2011, but has since fallen and now stands at £4.1 billion, the lowest level since 2007. The number of staff engaged in R&D in pharma industry peaked at 25,000, of which 11,000 were scientists and engineers, but now stands at 23,000, including 10,000 scientists and engineers.