In the UK, pharmaceuticals remain the highest R&D spending sector. Following substantial growth from 2014 to 2015 (8%), expenditure has remained steady, showing a slight decline in 2016 followed by growth in 2017 to £4.3 billion. The sector reached a peak in its share of overall UK business expenditure on R&D in 2010, with a share of 29% of the total business expenditure on R&D across sectors. The next largest spending sectors are motor vehicles and parts and computer programming & information services. Aerospace has also seen a return to growth in R&D after a decline. Overall, pharmaceutical R&D represented 18% of all business expenditure on R&D in the UK in 2017.
The UK is a relatively R&D intensive country for pharmaceuticals, with an intensity (that is, UK R&D expenditure as a share of UK sales) of 33% in 2016. The only sector with a higher R&D intensity is consumer electronics and communications equipment, which has grown substantially since 2010 and which has also seen a recent decline.