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Pharma, Technology Lead Worldwide Corporate R&D Rebound

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Research and development spending by the largest 1,400 corporate R&D spenders worldwide increased by more than 4 percent to €465 billion ($US 630 billion) in 2010, reversing a nearly 2 percent decline in 2009. The data are compiled in the European Commission’s EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, released today.

Pharmaceuticals/biotechnology, technology hardware, and automotive companies were the top three R&D industries, accounting for more than half of the total spending. Pharma/biotech R&D expenditures rose 6.2 percent in 2010; this sector was one of the few to record an increase ( 5%) in 2009.

Technology hardware, with a gain of 3.5 percent in 2010 R&D funding, reversed a 6.4 percent reduction in 2009. R&D by automotive companies in 2010 stayed about the same as in 2009 (a decline of 0.2%), which still marks a substantial change from the nearly 12 percent drop the previous year.

Of the 1,400 top-ranked enterprises in R&D spending, U.S. companies represent the largest single country in terms of number of businesses represented (487) and proportion of total R&D spending (35.1%). EU countries has 400 companies with 29 percent of the total R&D spending, and Japan has 267 companies with 21.7 percent of the worldwide total R&D amount.

Switzerland, is not an EU member, and thus recorded separately from the EU totals. Companies in Switzerland, which is the headquarters of Roche, the largest corporate R&D spender and Novartis, ranked no. 8, account for 4.5 percent of the world’s corporate R&D expenditures.

Other major Asian countries — China, South Korea, and Taiwan — contribute 94 companies to the list, which represent 6.3 percent of the worldwide total corporate R&D in 2010. However, on a percentage basis, the amount of R&D spending in those countries rose substantially in 2010: 29.5, 20.5, and 17.8 percent respectively.

The top 10 companies in R&D spending in 2010 were …

  1. Roche (Switzerland)
  2. Pfizer (U.S.)
  3. Microsoft (U.S.)
  4. Toyota Motor (Japan)
  5. Merck US (U.S.)
  6. Volkswagen (Germany)
  7. Samsung Electronics (South Korea)
  8. Novartis (Switzerland)
  9. General Motors (U.S.)
  10. Johnson & Johnson (U.S.)


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