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R&D Scoreboard is gone for good

Posted on behalf of Alice Lighton.

The UK government is not going to reinstate its R&D Scoreboard, which analysed the research-and-development (R&D) investment by the country’s top 1,000 research-active businesses and investment by the top 1,000 global companies in the UK. The last edition was produced in November 2010, but earlier this year the government considered reviving the annual report. According to the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), this has now been ruled out.

The decision has been met with disappointment. Imran Khan , director of CaSE, wrote on his blog: “When we’re trying to increase private-sector investment it’s important that we can see whether the Government’s strategy is working or not … we’re both surprised and disappointed that they have confirmed they won’t be reversing a hastily-taken and short-sighted decision.”

The scoreboard provided information on innovation across a wide range of sectors and allowed for comparisons between the United Kingdom and other countries. It provided a definitive and accurate measure of the state of R&D; its figures were almost never revised.

CaSE claims that budgetary concerns are the reason the Scoreboard has been binned. Announcing the end in 2010, science minister David Willets blamed “unprecedented financial pressures“. The report cost around £410,000 (US$648,000) to produce each year.

The United Kingdom has several other methods of measuring what businesses spend on R&D, but none are as rigorous as the Scoreboard. The biannual UK Innovation Survey is based on voluntary responses from businesses with ten or more employees. The Business Enterprise Research and Development and the Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development surveys (BERD and GERD) are based on the responses of 4,600 businesses, and are submitted to the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for comparisons with other countries.


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