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Explosive Growth for UK's Research and Data Sector

March 14 2016

The UK's 'professional research and evidence market' has grown massively in the last three and a half years to an annual turnover of £4.8bn - up 62% - and a workforce of 73,000 professionals, according to a report by PwC for the MRS.

Jane FrostProduced on the eve of the MRS' annual Impact conference in London the report, Business of Evidence 2016, builds on a first wave conducted in late 2012 and uses the same expanded definition of research, incorporating new analytics disciplines and other emerging areas. According to the new wave, the UK is now the world's second-largest market for professional research, having added nearly 14,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs since the last review. The increase in value - 62% - compares with just 8.7% growth in the UK economy as a whole over the same period, and the total turnover figure constitutes just over 0.3% of total UK GDP.

Among the good news, the sector boasts export revenues of more than £1.7bn (36% of the total), and while the biggest growth has been in analytics - up 350% - there has been a steep rise in qualitative research being used to help interrogate its findings.

The report splits total employment in the sector into c.38,900 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles in supply-side research companies, and 34,000+ FTE jobs in other sectors including client side, in specialist data analytics companies or in central government. London and the South East account for a massive 66% of the jobs.

MRS CEO Jane Frost (pictured) comments: 'The incredible growth we have seen since 2012 is testament to the value that organisations place on the importance of evidence-based decisions. It reflects the increasing confidence and importance of research and its practitioners to decisions being made at every level across both the public and private sectors'.

The study is based on a detailed review of data from ONS, ESRC and BIS surveys, the MRS Annual Survey and League Tables, Forbes and IDC forecasts, and PwC's own analysis of UK employment and salary trends; plus a quant market survey of research suppliers, private sector businesses, analytics houses, local authorities and charities; and ten depth interviews with key figures. The work was conducted by the consultancy's Research to Insight (r2i) division, which today announced the appointment in a senior role of former YouGov UK CEO Tim Britton.

Honor Mallon, Partner in charge of r2I, says of the study: 'I am delighted to see the re-emergence and growth of qualitative research. With so much focus now on the analysis of big data, it is absolutely vital that we find a way to give people a voice, and qualitative research is the perfect way to do that'.

Web sites: www.mrs.org.uk or www.pwc.co.uk/r2i .

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All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.

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