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Estimates of total expenditure on research and development (R&D) across different market sectors by UK country and English region for 2021.

Main points

  • An estimated total of £1.7 billion was spent on R&D in 2021 in Wales (current prices); this was an increase of £143 million (9.4%) compared with 2020.
  • This increase was largely a result of a rise in business enterprise R&D, up by £101 million (9.6%) over the year.
  • R&D expenditure in Wales represented 2.5% of total UK R&D expenditure.
  • Business enterprise R&D accounted for 69.7% of the total R&D expenditure in Wales, with higher education R&D accounting for 27.8%, and government R&D making up 2.2%.
  • In a small region such as Wales, the level of R&D expenditure can be influenced greatly by a small number of major projects commencing or ending, meaning the time series can be volatile.


This release provides estimates of R&D performed in, and funded by, the following four sectors of the UK economy:

  • business enterprise R&D (BERD)
  • higher education R&D (HERD)
  • government, including UK Research and Innovation R&D (GovERD)
  • private non-profit organisations R&D (PNPRD)

These sectors’ R&D data are known collectively as gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD).

A number of methodological improvements for BERD and HERD, as well as regular revisions to the survey data because of further validation, have been implemented for the 2018 period onwards. Comparisons of estimates for total R&D performed in the UK, and R&D performed in the business and higher education sectors 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. Therefore, the UK total and performing sector level research and development (R&D) figures are designated as National Statistics, while the remaining figures have official statistics designation. Further information is available in the ONS release



Datasets and interactive tools


Emma Horncastle

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