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All things Pharma

Pharma R&D is leading the way for UK

The latest research by RIFT Research and Development Ltd has revealed which UK companies are driving business forward in their respective sectors through research and development and pharma R&D is leading the way.

RIFT looked at which global nations are home to the biggest average R&D spend as a proportion of revenue based on the companies located there that feature in the Strategy and Global Innovation Top 1000 – a round-up of the biggest and most innovative companies involved in R&D worldwide.

Switzerland currently leads the way with the Swiss companies featuring in the list averaging the highest R&D spend of 8.4% of total revenue on an annual basis.

The U.S ranks second with R&D expenses accounting for 6.9% of total revenue, with Australia third (6.4%), Sweden fourth (6.3%) and Germany taking the fifth spot with 4.6%.

The UK comes in at a respectable seventh with the R&D spend of these companies accounting for 3.6% of revenue, but who are the big names driving the UK’s domestic R&D endeavors?

RIFT then looked at which names appearing in the list of most innovative R&D companies are based in the UK to see who was committing to the biggest R&D in relation to their revenue.

The frontrunners are quite notably based within the pharmaceuticals sector with GW Pharmaceuticals Plc ploughing a huge £115m into the research and development of their company, products and sector, accounting for 1349.9% of their total revenue for the year.

Circassia Pharmaceuticals Plc is the UK’s second biggest R&D spender having committed an annual spend of £101m to research and development, 210.4% of its annual revenue.

These are the only two companies in the list to see R&D spend far exceed annual revenue with enterprise software multinational, Atlassian Corporation Plc, ranking third with an R&D spend totalling 67.9% of their annual revenue.

Micro Focus International, BTG, Sophos Group, AstraZeneca, Dialog Semiconductor, Travelport Worldwide Limited and GlaxoSmithKline also rank as some of the UK’s biggest names in R&D spend, committing upwards of 15% of annual revenue to research and development in their sectors.

Director of RIFT Research and Development Limited, Sarah Collins commented: “Research and development has become a big business and this is demonstrated by some of the huge spends across some of the biggest companies operating in the UK.

“However, while certain names are helping drive R&D within the UK at the very highest level, we still have some way to go before we catch the national frontrunners elsewhere around the world.

“The great thing about R&D is that claims aren’t limited to these giants and regardless of how established your company is, any work done to progress your sector can qualify and help push the UK to the top of the table.”

UK’s most innovative companies by R&D expense as a % of revenue
Company Name2019 R&D expense (GBP full value)2019 total revenue (GBP full value)R&D expense as a % of Total Revenue
GW Pharmaceuticals plc£114,828,981£8,506,6921349.9%
Circassia Pharmaceuticals Plc£101,369,192£48,186,793210.4%
Atlassian Corporation Plc£238,829,360£351,936,20067.9%
Micro Focus International plc£528,109,890£1,063,139,00049.7%
BTG plc£178,868,692£616,583,61929.0%
Sophos Group plc£112,266,000£407,869,00027.5%
AstraZeneca plc£4,167,240,000£17,298,050,00024.1%
Dialog Semiconductor Plc£214,672,920£1,041,686,80020.6%
Travelport Worldwide Limited£332,238,060£1,884,405,60017.6%
GlaxoSmithKline plc£4,658,403,729£31,416,124,87914.8%
LivaNova PLC£84,439,740£779,455,60010.8%
The Sage Group plc£184,793,393£1,770,506,53010.4%
Laird PLC£87,006,825£974,767,8568.9%
Delphi Technologies PLC£323,400,000£3,733,730,0008.7%
Mallinckrodt Public Limited Company£213,521,000£2,480,632,0008.6%
Cobham plc£165,063,189£2,136,142,4627.7%
Spectris plc£109,382,983£1,587,770,4926.9%
International Game Technology PLC£241,077,760£3,802,999,2006.3%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals plc£93,170,000£1,490,720,0006.3%
Rolls-Royce Holdings plc£827,397,445£16,971,534,7654.9%
Smith & Nephew plc£171,710,000£3,669,050,0004.7%
Sensata Technologies Holding PLC£100,257,080£2,546,182,1003.9%
Smiths Group plc£126,848,362£3,328,501,0143.8%
CNH Industrial N.V.£736,890,000£19,816,720,0003.7%
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.£2,986,431,317£102,431,820,3832.9%
BT Group plc£683,051,442£26,005,670,5792.6%
Pentair plc£89,166,000£3,801,105,0002.3%
Unilever N.V.£832,132,565£49,664,445,2541.7%
Reckitt Benckiser Group plc£194,620,531£11,981,131,3081.6%
Johnson Matthey plc£201,024,633£13,002,835,2891.5%
TechnipFMC plc£163,933,000£11,593,813,0001.4%
BAE Systems plc£247,698,858£19,068,649,0461.3%
Sky plc£137,003,558£11,965,310,7841.1%
British American Tobacco p.l.c.£198,783,537£21,118,929,5090.9%
Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC£85,886,539£17,739,375,3680.5%
Royal Dutch Shell plc£709,940,000£234,987,830,0000.3%
BP p.l.c.£301,070,000£183,877,540,0000.2%


Global nations ranked by R&D expense as a % of revenue for companies listed in Innovation top 100
NationAverage R&D expense (GBP full numbers)Average total revenue (GBP full numbers)Average R&D intensity [R&D expense as a % of Total Revenue]
United States£746,900,000£10,857,000,0006.9%
United Kingdom£531,300,000£14,645,400,0003.6%
South Korea£777,700,000£22,630,300,0003.4%
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Emma Morriss
Emma Morriss
Emma is Head of Marketing and Content at Uniphar | Commercial, part of Uniphar. She works with pharma and biotech companies to strategise and deliver highly effective brand optimisation solutions across the brand lifecycle from pre-launch to post-reimbursement.


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