Brussels, 13 Dec 2004
The top 500 EU companies investing in research and development (R&D) spent a combined 101 billion euro on research in 2003 - down on the total for 2002, and in contrast to the increased investments made by leading non-EU companies.
The finding was revealed in the first EU Industrial Research Investment Scoreboard, published on 10 December as part of the Union's research investment action plan to raise R&D spending to three per cent of GDP. The figures are based on annual audited company reports and accounts, and focus on the EU's major R&D-investing businesses, regardless of where the research is carried out.
Whereas EU500 investments in R&D fell by two per cent between 2002 and 2003, research spending by the top 500 non-EU companies rose by 3.9 per cent during the same period. One obvious reason for the decline in European research spending is the fact that 12 of the EU's top 25 companies reduced their R&D budgets last year, four of them by double figure percentages.
However, the five biggest R&D spenders in Europe - Daimler Chrysler, Siemens, Volkswagen, Nokia and Glaxo Smith Kline - continue to hold their own globally. All five appear in the list of top 12 global companies in terms of research investments, with each having spent over four billion euro on R&D in 2003.
But after these larger companies, the EU500 list shows a steep fall-off in research spending in comparison with the non-EU list. Indeed, at 101 billion euro, the total R&D investment by the EU500 companies in 2003 was around half that of their non-EU counterparts, at 196 billion euro.
Closer analysis of the scoreboard figures shows that the four largest EU sectors in terms of research spending are automobiles and parts, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, IT hardware, and electronics and electrical equipment, which together represent 64 per cent of the total spent on R&D. The largest of these is automobiles, which accounted for 24 per cent of R&D investments, whereas in non-EU companies the biggest proportion goes to the IT hardware sector.
Within the EU, there is an obvious concentration of research-intensive companies in the bloc's largest economies, with enterprises based in Germany, France and the UK together accounting for 74 per cent of the EU500 R&D investment.
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