Sound economics: what is acoustics worth?

Andrew Bullmore

Andrew Bullmore, Partner, Acoustics

The value of our industry to the UK and beyond.

It’s often a ‘hidden’ service that many aren’t aware of, but the acoustics industry is finally making itself heard on the UK stage…

For the first time ever, the value of acoustics to the UK economy has been quantified in a report that looks at everything from the industry’s annual turnover to business sizes and employment levels. This ground-breaking piece of research, carried out by the UK Acoustics Network (UKAN) in conjunction with the Institute of Acoustics (IOA), was recently presented at the Acoustics 2019 conference.

For a passionate acoustician like myself, it’s inspiring to see what I know about this industry put into context for a wider audience and presented as a vital part of the UK’s industrial strategy.

As a result of us being a ‘hidden’ industry, there have been no previous reports of acoustics’ direct economic contribution. As such, the figures compiled in this report will help demonstrate the impact of our industry on the world stage.

The report’s headlines show that our UK acoustics industry contributes:

£4.6 billion to the country’s economy annually
A 16,000-strong workforce
£65,000 gross value added (GVA) contribution per employee
£150 million in active research grants

Acoustics is a multi-disciplinary industry that feeds into sectors as diverse as aerospace, automotive, healthcare, construction, manufacturing and defence. Looking at the industry across all these sectors shows how the market opportunity is vast.

The report’s aim? To justify and encourage further Government spending on acoustic research, as guarantees of EU funding are becoming less certain.

Bigger picture

There’s also the wider picture to look at. As acoustics research spans a wide and diverse range of disciplines – from mechanical and electrical engineering and physics, to psychology and healthcare, design, architecture and construction – it will play a part in some of the biggest challenges facing society today.

The four Grand Challenges (shown above) identified in the 2017 UK Industrial Strategy will all require acoustics innovation.

Acoustics underpins most major developments in our modern society. As this report reveals, support for further growth in research and development within the industry is vital to the continued growth of the UK economy.