A new report from the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry says that the country is outstripping the USA in terms of health and biological science research.

The UK has increased its share “of the world's most influential scientific papers,” and the country’s research base is second only to the USA “in terms of its achievements, productivity and efficiency,” the report claims, prompting Science and Innovation Minister Malcolm Wicks to note that the UK produces 9% of the world's scientific papers and has a citation share of 12%.

The report also shows that the UK is ranked in the top three in eight scientific disciplines – biological (2), clinical (2), environmental (2), humanities (2), maths (3), preclinical and health (2), social sciences (2) and business (2) – and its share of PhD awards is up to 9.4% within Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. It also noted that “the UK's strong performance has been achieved with relatively lower investment than its competitors.”

Mr Wicks said that "Britain's 21st century knowledge economy depends on science and innovation” and “we are in a good position – we have excellent science and strong investment." However, he added, “there's no room for complacency, with increasing competition from China. The UK is continuing to show continuous improvement despite fierce competition and we must make sure it stays that way."