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Research & Innovation

EU companies invest the most in R&D

A new report on expenditures for research and development places European companies at the top of the global rankings. In a global comparison, however, investments in software and IT hardware are lacking.

03 Jan. 2018
Source: European Commission - Joint Research Centre
Source: European Commission - Joint Research Centre

These results are based on a study of the 2017 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard of the European Commission, which compares the investments into research and development (R&D) of the 2,500 most active companies in this area worldwide.

According to the study, these companies increased their R&D expenditures by 5.8 % in total over the previous year, compared with 7 % invested by companies headquartered in Europe. This is just under the level in the United States, where R&D investments increased by 7.2 %, while in Japan they fell by around 3 %. Chinese companies increased their R&D investments by 18.8 %.

A look at the absolute values shows that European companies have a clear edge, expending as they do about 7 % more on research and development than countries outside of the EU. For the report period of 2016/2017, the total in the EU was around 192 billion euros. For the forth time in a row, Volkswagen AG, at around 14 billion euros, has taken first place worldwide. Second and third are taken by American companies Alphabet and Microsoft.

EU companies mainly increased their R&D expenses in the areas of space travel and defense, the automotive sector and the pharmaceutical industry. In contrast, a negative trend was seen in investments in biotechnology, software and IT hardware.