British companies are channeling a smaller proportion of their research and development cash to UK universities, and evidence suggests that some – including the pharmaceutical industry – are focusing their attention on bigger markets in Asia, an interim report from the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) said last week.

The report shows that between 1993 and 2000, the amount UK businesses spent on funding research in British universities rose from less than £150 million to over £250 million annually. But since then, business investment in research and development in universities has remained broadly static – which, in the context of inflation, represents a decline, according to the report.

"The pattern is now fairly stable, having risen substantially in the 1980s and 1990s," Richard Brown, chief executive of CIHE and co-author of the report, told The Scientist.

The plateau in funding has meant that while universities secured a...

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