Huge R&D investment in Suffolk revealed

BT spends more than £360million each year on research and development at its base in Martlesham, the telecoms giant revealed today.

BT spends more than £360million each year on research and development at its base in Martlesham, the telecoms giant revealed today.

The company now officially spends more than any other telecoms operator of its size in the world on developing new technologies and half of that money is invested here in Suffolk.

The news came after the government revealed that BT is the fourth largest investor in R&D in the UK, behind global drug companies GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca and aerospace leader BAE Systems.

As a fixed line telecoms operator, the company is second in the world in terms of its total commitment to R&D, behind Japanese company NTT.

BT's ranking in the global R&D market emerged in the Department of Trade and Industry's R&D Scoreboard 2006, which ranked the top 800 UK companies and top 1,250 global companies by R&D investment.

The scoreboard showed that BT spent £727million on R&D last year. The budget was controlled by staff at Martlesham's Adastral Park - the company's R&D organisation - but some was spent elsewhere in the country. Today BT said that £363million, half of its massive R&D spend, went directly into its functions at Adastral Park.

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While NTT, which is a much larger company, spends more on R&D, BT's investment outstrips it because as a smaller company its investment represents a higher proportion of its revenue from sales.

Mike Carr, director of research and venturing at Adastral Park, said: “In 2001 we were spending £361million so we've more than doubled that in the past four years.

“This is due to BT changing from being just a straight forward telephone company to being a broadband and ICT company.”

BT employs 3,500 people at Adastral Park, mostly highly trained researchers and inventors.

And the company's Martlesham operations have attracted other global operators, like computer giants Cisco, Fujitsu and Intel, to base operations in the county.

Mr Carr said: “We've got 3,500 people in R&D here. That is the biggest telecommunications research centre in Europe, if not in the US as well.

“This has attracted a very large partnership with global companies. There are substantial numbers of people working for these companies now working here.

“And I know there are companies that have plans to come here.

“BT operates its services in 96 countries and a lot of the technology that is used in those countries is developed here in Suffolk.”

WEBLINKS: www.innovation.gov.uk/rd_scoreboard; www.atadastral.co.uk

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