London, 18 October 2011 – The European Commission's 2011 "EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard" shows that R&D investment by top UK companies recovered strongly in 2010, with a 5.8% rise following a sharp decrease in 2009. The overall rise for the EU's leading companies was 6.1% and the global figure 4%.
German companies showed the highest one-year growth (8.1%). This is mostly due to a few automotive companies (Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW). The figure for France was 3.8%.
The UK companies figuring among the world's top fifty R&D investors in 2010 were both pharmaceutical companies, Glaxo Smith Kline in 16th place with total spend of nearly 4.5bn euro and Astra Zeneca in 29th place with over 3bn euro.
The European Commission also highlighted UK software company Autonomy as an R&D success story and emphasised the need to take measures to increase the dynamism and growth of companies created in the last thirty years in high R&D intensity sectors like biotechnology, semiconductors or software.
The Commission has proposed several key measures to boost R&D and innovation across Europe, in its Innovation Union Action Plan. "The fact that we are still lagging behind some global competitors shows 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", said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.
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). Volkswagen (€6.3bn), in sixth place, is the biggest EU investor in R&D, followed by Nokia (11th with €4.9bn) and Sanofi-Aventis (14th with €4.4bn). However, the data for the world's top 1400 companies show EU companies as a whole still lagging behind major competitors from the US and some Asian economies.