Press release

UK companies invest record £133bn in intangible assets

UK companies are increasingly spending more on know-how and ideas. Over half are protected by IP rights.

UK companies are increasingly spending more on know-how and ideas, with research commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office showing that intangible asset investment continues to outstrip traditional “bricks and mortar” investment.

In 2014 intangible investment, which includes spending on R&D, software, and design, hit £133 billion – 9% higher than traditional “tangible” investment such as such as property, machinery and IT.

Since the turn of the century intangible investment by organisations has increased by £45 billion – highlighting the UK’s important role in the global “knowledge economy”. Investment in tangible assets also rose by nearly 38% between 2011 and 2014 - from £87.9 billion to £121 billion.

The report also highlights the importance of manufacturing and financial services to the UK’s innovation economy. These two industries alone account for just 20% of total hours worked but are responsible for 58% of intangible investment.

In 2014 more than half of intangible investments (53%) were protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) - a 3% increase from 2011. Of these assets:

  • 25% were protected by copyright
  • 11% were protected by trade marks
  • 11% were protected by design rights
  • 6% were protected by patents

Innovation is a major element of the government’s plan to help UK companies drive future economic growth up and down the country, and IP rights play an increasingly important role in delivering this.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State for Energy and Intellectual Property, said:

The UK has an impressive track record when it comes to innovation and creativity. Investment in intangible assets like research and patents helps businesses grow - which is why the UK has a strong system in place to protect their IP rights, and encourage further investment.

Our intellectual property regime has helped create an environment in which innovators and creators can prosper knowing full well that their hard work will be rewarded and rigorously protected.

Tony Rollins, President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, said:

Investment in the protection of intellectual property is a vital driver of economic growth: it helps to maximise profits which fund further research and development into new ideas.

CIPA is proud of its excellent relationship with government and innovative business. The IP system encourages investment and research thanks to high quality practices, insightful policy-making and excellent work such as this report.

Notes to editors

  1. The UK Intellectual Property Office is responsible for Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the United Kingdom, including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.