R&D spending in the construction sector surged 18% in 2021 to £471m, Office for National Statistics reports, up from £399m in 2020 and £350m in 2019.
Despite ongoing pandemic disruption, this is a new record high for the industry.
The fourth quarter total rose to £121m, also a record high.
The construction sector’s performance was significantly better than the performance of UK industry as a whole. Total R&D spending by UK businesses rose 5.6% to £42bn last year.
By comparison, GDP in 2021 was up 7.4%% on an annual basis according to the ONS. However, the R&D spending statistics do not factor inflation, which was running at an annual 5.4% by the end of 2021.
Mark Tighe, chief executive of R&D tax relief consultancy Catax, 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.”