Construction innovation investment reaches all-time high

Investment in innovation in the construction industry has soared to its highest level since records began.

Research and development work within the sector was worth £471m in 2021, according to data gathered by the Office for National Statistics and analysed by tax-relief consultancy Catax. In 2020, the industry invested £399m in R&D.

The latest rise marks a continuation of a trend recorded before the COVID pandemic, with R&D investment amounting to £350m in 2019.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association chief executive Alasdair Reisner said there had been a “sea change” in the amount of investment in R&D over the past decade. Construction R&D spending has increased by more than 400 per cent since 2011, when the total stood at £93m.

“While this is to be welcomed, the [construction] industry is in no way resting on its laurels in our work to ensure the UK construction industry both delivers world-class schemes and is one of the most attractive industries in which to work in the UK,” he added.

“R&D investment is about transforming the industry to enable us to rise to the challenges of the 21st century, not least the imperative of driving down carbon emissions to meet the climate challenge, ensuring UK construction is a foundation of sustained economic growth and a source of high-value, rewarding careers in all parts of the UK.”

Catax chief executive Mark Tighe said: “Construction might have ground to a halt in the early days of the pandemic, but the sector’s R&D spending has kept motoring. This is a very positive sign, particularly against the backdrop of big strides being made in innovation as the industry builds an eco future for housing and building.

“The UK is all about the race to net-zero now and construction has a huge role to play.”

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