The UK ranks in the top five highest spending countries when it comes to research and development (R&D), according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), alongside the US, Japan, Germany and France.

The DTI R&D scoreboard said the 72 companies out of the top 1,250 R&D spenders worldwide were UK based, and that their total R&D expenditure increased 8% over the previous year.

Out of the global rankings, manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline was the highest ranked UK company at number 10. But the majority (57%) of UK companies in the Global 1,250 were in pharmaceuticals and aerospace markets.

It also said the top five R&D areas were technology hardware and software pharmaceuticals, automotive and electronics.

The report found the total R&D spending of top 800 UK companies, including 245 foreign owned firms, has increased by £2.2bn to £19.2bn compared to the £17bn recorded in 2005.

It said the main reasons for the rise were a higher level of financial disclosure as a result of new accounting standard IFRS, as well as increased spending levels.

Examples of companies included in the 2006 Scoreboard for the first time are, Royal Bank of Scotland with £329m spent on R&D, HSBC with £245m, Tesco with £115m, Royal & Sun Alliance with £122m and Reed Elsevier with £102m.

It added: “A number of large increases reported this year by UK companies such as BAE Systems (£339m), GlaxoSmithKline (£297m) and BT (£205m) strongly contributed to the overall rise.”