THE UK risks missing out on becoming a leading centre for top-end engineering because companies are holding back on research and development (R&D) spending, Royal Bank of Scotland has warned.

The part-nationalised bank's intervention comes despite official figures published yesterday showing that R&D spending in Scotland rose by 11% in cash terms between 2010 and 2011, although at £689 million, it is only 4% of the UK total of £17.4 billion.

UK-wide, R&D spending rose by 8% in cash terms and, taking account of inflation, is back where it was before the downturn.

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Yet an RBS survey found that only one in 10 businesses plans to increase its R&D spending over the next two to five years.

And only 4% of UK manufacturers who are conducting R&D are targeting cutting-edge technology.

The high value engineering segment, in areas such as composite materials and 3D printing, could be worth £805bn in 2015, RBS said, but there is a battle as to which places will be commercial centres in the sector.

The issue is of particular importance to Scotland because Glasgow and Aberdeen are in the top 10 places in the UK in terms of jobs in high value engineering.