Europe’s firms ramp up R&D
07.12.2012 - According to the 2011 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, the 400 leading European companies invested about €132bn, a plus of 6.1% over 2009.
R&D investment by top EU companies recovered strongly in 2010. The annually published Scoreboard collects information on the top 1000 EU companies and 1000 non-EU companies investing the largest sums in research and development. What seems to be a positive trend as a first glance, shows some worrying trends at closer inspection. The study, which was commissioned by the European Commission, has shown that EU companies as a whole are lagging behind major competitors from the US and some Asian economies on R&D growth. While EU-based companies increased R&D expenditures by 6.1%, US-companies have spent 10% more. The increase was even larger in Taiwan (17.8%), South Korea (20.5%) and China(29.5%).
The global top 50, in terms of total R&D investment, includes 15 EU companies, 18 US firms and 13 from Japan. Two pharmaceutical companies occupied the top spots: Roche from Switzerland (€7.2bn) followed by Pfizer from the US (€7bn). A ray of light: A poll with some 190 mainly larger EU-companies surveyed in the Scoreboard revealed that they expect to maintain robust R&D investment increases (average 4% p.a.) over the next three years. This could be seen as a positive and stable trend for R&D investment growth, as observed before the 2008 economic and financial crises.
The Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology sector has strengthened its position as the largest sector for R&D, its expenditures grew by 6.2% in 2010, slightly more than in 2009. The other two top sectors, Technology Hardware & Equipment and Automobiles & Parts are recovering from the significant reductions observed in the past Scoreboard (from -6.4% to 3.5% and from -11.6% to 0% respectively). Interestingly, all three sectors increased net sales more than they increased R&D investments.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science sees room for further improvement. „We need quick adoption and implementation of recent and up-coming European Commission proposals on the unitary patent, on standards, public procurement and risk capital“, she said.