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30 December 2002

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R & D makes major contribution to local economy

A survey carried out on behalf of Greater Peterborough Investment Agency (GPIA) shows that as many as 3,100 people in Peterborough are employed in some form of research and development (R&D). A total of almost 1,000 businesses in Peterborough - more than 40 per cent of the total - are involved in R&D activity.

Gloria Milne, GPIA chief executive, said: "Peterborough does not have a national reputation as a centre for R&D. However, this survey shows that there is a lot of such work currently being done here and it is making a major contribution to the local economy.

"Clearly we are not in the same league - not yet, anyway - as major high tech areas such as Cambridge. However, the survey findings will help us to persuade more companies to set up R&D facilities here.

"This in turn will help to expand our science and engineering base, bring in more highly skilled jobs, develop our local economy and make it easier for companies involved in R&D to recruit the people they need.

"We also need to use the survey results to influence education provision and the careers advice given to young people."

The survey showed that the majority of Peterborough companies involved in R&D (64 per cent) are undertaking the activity to develop products or services which they will then produce and/or market. Other companies are doing R&D to develop products which they will licence other firms to manufacture or are undertaking R&D under contract to other organisations.

Larger firms are more likely to be involved with R&D than smaller ones. Only 35 per cent of companies with fewer than 21 employees are involved in R&D compared with 88 per cent of companies with more than 1,000 employees.

The survey reveals, though, that firms with an overseas parent company are twice as likely to be involved in R&D as the average Peterborough business and that academic qualifications of R&D staff in Peterborough are lower than in the worldwide workforce as a whole. For example, R&D teams elsewhere are more than twice as likely to include a doctor or professor as are those in Peterborough.

Companies which undertake R&D in Peterborough generally spend a lower percentage of their turnover on this activity than their international counterparts.

Mrs Milne said: "The results of the survey are generally very positive but they do show where we need to do more to improve our international competitiveness.

"This underlines again the importance of two major initiatives already underway in the city - the development of an innovation centre to encourage the creation and growth of young knowledge-based businesses and an expansion of the Loughborough University centre in Peterborough."

November 2001




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