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The world champions of R&D

E. Jardin & C. Schoch

In the global scoreboard of the top 10 companies that have spent the most on R&D in 2005, five are American, two are Asian, three European and none of them French.

The International R&D Scoreboard ranks 1250 companies every year according to their spending on research and development (R&D). Among them, 82% are based in the United States, Japan, Germany, France and the UK. Companies based in the Southeast Asian “dragons,” including Samsung Electronics in ninth position and Hyundai Motor in 43rd position, have found their way into the top 50. In fact, as the chart below shows, R&D in Korean companies is heavily invested in electronics and automotive sectors, the flagship activities of Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor. South Korea is not the only specialized country. Switzerland and the UK are for instance very pharmaceuticals-oriented. Even if no pharmaceutical company was among the top 20 in 1996, ten years later there were six of them, including Glaxo Smith Kline (UK) in tenth place, and Novartis and Roche in Switzerland in the 13th and 19th places respectively. As for R&D in French companies, it is multisector with automotive dominating slightly.

Companies on the rise
Who will top this scoreboard in the future? Among the 300 companies qualified as middlesized (turnover ranging between 76 and 760 million euros) likely to become large, 77% of them are from the pharmaceutical and information technology sectors, and most of them are American. Examples? In pharmaceuticals: Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences, Celgene, Kos Pharmaceuticals; in software development: Google, Red Hat, United Online, and in hardware technology: Juniper Networks, SanDisk.
Most of the companies with the highest potential are based in the United States. Another survey conducted by the European Commission indicates that there is no reason the appeal of the United States should wane. The country is found to offer the best conditions for development of R&D due to its vast domestic market, highly qualified researchers and positive relations between private research and public research. In Europe, Germany is deemed to be the most attractive country, in front of the UK and France.

Sources :
-The 2005 EU Survey on R&D Investment Business Trends in 10 sectors, European Commission, August 2006.
-The R&D Scoreboard. The top 800 UK and 1250 Global Companies by R&D investment, 2006. PDF version available at www.innovation.gov.uk/rd_scoreboard