The pandemic, combined with a lack of incentives for large companies and the UK’s exit from the EU, has presented the UK with both a problem and an opportunity. Science has never been more at the forefront of everyone’s minds and the need to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 at an unprecedented pace shows the direct impact that innovative science and technology has upon the whole UK economy. However, when compared to other countries, the UK under invests in research & development (R&D) relative to competitor nations. There is also the problem that due to the pandemic, exit from the EU, and increased financial incentives for business from other countries, the UK is losing foreign direct investment (FDI) at an alarming rate.
While the UK government has made public commitments to increasing R&D spend, setting a target of raising R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, at its current pace of spending the UK will miss this target by 26 years. This under spend on R&D not only creates a lack of innovation within the country, but as a driver for FDI, means that the UK often misses out on this highly mobile investment. Increased international competition to attract business R&D investment has contributed to the UK’s decline in attracting inbound FDI projects, losing out to France in 2020 as the country who attracted the most inward investment.
There is now the chance to seize on these problems and create opportunities out of them, making the UK an innovative nation that is better equipped to deal with issues such as climate change and future pandemics.