A new analysis notes that spending on R&D by leading UK firms rose 6% in 2007, with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms once again leading the way.

The R&D spend reached £21.6 billion, according to figures presented by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). The “annual R&D Scoreboard”, published in collaboration with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers, also shows that the UK's 88 biggest research investors grew their R&D by 10.3% over the previous year, whereas their global peers averaged a 9.5% increase.

Commenting on the figures, Science and Innovation Minister Lord Drayson said that the R&D investment by UK companies in 2007 was pleasing but acknowledged that this was achieved “in largely benign economic conditions before the impact of the global economic downturn”. He added that "the future commercial success of UK companies and the wider UK economy requires continued investment in R&D”.

The pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sector remained the largest investor overall in R&D in the UK, up 7%, ahead of firms in the technology arena.