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Roche biggest pharma R&D spender in PwC survey

Pharma giant on track to spend 21.9% of its total revenue on research this year


Pharma companies feature prominently among companies spending the most on R&D in 2017, with Roche, Merck & Co and Novartis heading the sector’s leader board.

The data comes from PwC Strategy & unit’s 2017 Global Innovation 1000 study, which this year focuses on the potential impact of rising economic nationalism and an increasingly inward-looking political landscape in countries such as the US and UK throwing the world of innovation “into uncertainty”.

Roche had a total expenditure of $11.4bn in 2017, a hefty 21.9% of its total revenue but only appeared seventh in the list, which was dominated by tech companies at the top including Amazon, Alphabet, Intel, Samsung and Microsoft.

Merck was eighth in the overall table with a spend of $10.1bn (25.4% of revenues) and Novartis sat in position ten (just behind Apple) with a $9.6bn spend that equated to 19.4% of revenues. Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Eli Lilly were the other pharma companies featuring in the top 25 listing.

Overall, annual worldwide corporate R&D spending broke through $700bn in annual investment, up 3% on the prior year, but an accompanying survey reveals the deep concern among multinationals about the rhetoric of economic nationalism, even if it has yet to develop into concreate actions. Many are starting to plan for increased barriers to trade within the next two to five years.

“The global innovation model long embraced by leading multinationals, one based on the free flow of information, money, and talent across borders, is at risk,” says the report. Co-author Barry Jaruzelski notes that while 94% of the world’s top companies conduct R&D across orders, 25% have reported pressure to change that approach.

“Nearly 33% of R&D executives surveyed, report that they have already felt the effects of economic nationalism on their R&D talent acquisition or retention because of visa or work restrictions - either losing employees, seeing less talent available, or in hiring more local talent,” says the report.

The three countries most at risk of being damaged by this nationalism are the US, UK and China, he said, with restrictions on talent particularly problematic in the first two countries where “a disproportionate number of scientists come from overseas.” China meanwhile has a different problem, as four-fifths of R&D that its companies rely on is conducted by non-Chinese companies.

Countries that are embracing a globalised model and open borders for technical talent - Canada, Germany and France for example - are likely to benefit if multinationals respond to economic protectionism as PwC expects, such creating “robust, autonomous nodes” in these countries even if their main headquarters lies elsewhere.

However, that would mean companies “losing efficiency and taking on higher costs if it is not managed effectively”, said Jaruzelski.

Article by
Phil Taylor

25th October 2017

From: Research



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