London: Annual spending on research and development (R&D) in Britain has reached an all-time high, exceeding more than $44 billion, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Businesses in Britain were the biggest performers in R&D of any sector. In 2014, they accounted for 65 percent of the total spend at $29 billion, a 6 percent increase over the previous year, ONS said on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported. But even with the new record, Britain's R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is 1.67 percent. This is against an EU average of 2.03 percent and an EU target of 3 percent of GDP. Finland (3.17 percent) tops the Euro table having already exceeded, along with Sweden (3.16 percent) and Denmark (3.08 percent) the EU target. Currently, Britain is in 11th place in the list of GDP spend on R&D in EU countries, behind its industrial rivals such as Germany (2.84 percent) and France (2.26 percent). Romania rounds up the list spending 0.38 percent of its GDP on R&D. Within the business sector, the pharmaceutical industry was the biggest spender on research at $5.64 billion followed by computer programming and information services ($3.48 billion), the auto industry $3.33 billion, and aerospace at spent, $2.5 billion. The higher education sector, which includes universities and higher education institutes, was the second biggest spender on research, accounting for 26 percent of the total or $11.4 billion. Across Britain the South East and East of England, continued to dominate R&D activity accounting for 39 percent of total R& D expenditure ($17.2 billion).