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Estimates of research and development expenditure by businesses in UK countries and English regions for 2021.

The most recent data in this report is for 2021. Comparisons to the previous year are likely to be impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Main points

  • In 2021, business expenditure on R&D (BERD) for Wales was £1.2 billion, up 9.6% on the figure for 2020.
  • This represented 2.5% of the UK total.
  • The 9.6% increase was the second highest increase of the 4 UK countries.
  • For the UK, business expenditure on R&D increased by 6.7%.

The level of BERD in Wales can be influenced greatly by a small number of individual projects commencing or ending in a period. The BERD series for Wales is therefore quite volatile and so a longer-term perspective is recommended.

Methodological improvements have been made to address under-coverage in the BERD survey results, which are now more representative of small businesses performing research and development (R&D). The approach uses uplift factors, which have been applied to the survey results that have otherwise been prepared using the usual BERD survey results process. These changes have been implemented in the detailed BERD statistics for the 2018 period onwards, meaning comparisons of estimates for R&D performed in the business sector before 2018 are not possible.

These figures provide the current best estimate of R&D at the UK level, but there is more uncertainty in the estimates below the UK and performing sector level. While the existing National Statistics designation for the total and performing sector level R&D figures will remain, to help further convey the uncertainty, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have asked the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) to temporarily pause the National Statistics status of the detailed breakdowns (including totals for Wales). OSR confirmed their agreement to this approach in their letter published on 21 November 2022 (Office for Statistics Regulation). This is until the further redevelopment takes place and there is more certainty on the distribution below this level.

Further work is underway to improve how the business enterprise research and development (BERD) statistics are compiled in the future, including developing a better method for drawing the sample to be used in the BERD 2022 survey.

Further information is available in the ONS release.

The detailed dataset on StatsWales will be updated to include these new data as soon as possible.



Jack Tennant

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