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Pharma heads EU Commission R&D spend list

The pharmaceutical industry has overtaken the technology hardware sector as the top global investor in R&D, according to the EU Commission's annual international scoreboard of corporate R&D spending, which was published on 5 October.

The pharmaceutical industry has overtaken the technology hardware sector as the top global investor in R&D, according to the EU Commission's annual international scoreboard of corporate R&D spending, which was published on 5 October.

US-based Pfizer comes out on top, with an investment of USD 8.2bn in 2006.

Other companies also demonstrated augmented R&D spends: Merck KGaA (up 24.3 per cent), AztraZeneca (up 15.5 per cent), Roche (up 15.5 per cent), Johnson & Johnson (up 12.9 per cent) and GlaxoSmithKline (up 10 per cent).

Together, the 2000 Scoreboard companies invested EUR 372bn (USD 524.2bn) in R&D, estimated to represent more than 85 per cent of corporate expenditure on R&D worldwide.

The EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard is published annually by the European Commission as part of its Industrial Research Investment Monitoring activity. The figures are derived from company accounts for the previous financial year and indicate the investment made by a company from its own funds.

The Scoreboard does not reflect where the expenditure was made, just the origin of the company making the investment. The Scoreboard comprises the top 1000 R&D companies from the EU and the top 1000 R&D companies from the rest of the world.

On the downside, the report shows that R&D investment by EU companies is still growing at a lower rate than their non-EU counterparts, a trend identified in every edition of the Industrial R&D Scoreboard published to date. This difference is primarily explained by a growth rate in high R&D-intensive sectors outside the EU of almost twice that within the EU. These sectors also account for a much larger proportion of R&D outside the EU.

The EU did, however, record the highest growth in fixed capital investment. This represents an important part of total corporate investment that also underpins investment in innovation.

Chemicals shows a strong recovery in R&D investment (up 9.8 per cent), compared with the negative growth of the previous year. This was especially pronounced in the EU group of companies (up 17 per cent) where the large chemical companies showed impressive R&D growth rates: Bayer (up 30.3 per cent), Solvay (up 20.3 per cent) and BASF (up 19.8 per cent). This is partly due to processes of acquisitions and concentration in the sector.

The performance of Scoreboard companies further improved in the past year. Sales of EU companies grew by 10 per cent and sales of US and Japanese companies grew by about eight per cent. The profitability of EU companies increased further to 11.6 per cent (between 12.9 per cent for the US and 7.4 per cent for Japan).

European Science and Research Commissioner, Janez Potochnik, said: "The positive upward trend in R&D investment seen in the last two years is encouraging, and leads me to believe that our innovation strategy is on the right track. But we must not allow ourselves to be complacent ­ quite the
opposite: we should reinforce the positive measures already taken to consolidate and improve private investment in R&D."

The 2007 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard can be downloaded here.

30th September 2008

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