EU Science Hub

EU companies' R&D investment grows faster than global and US trends

The EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard collects companies' key R&D and economic indicators
Dec 01 2016

The 2016 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, published on 1 December by the European Commission, shows that EU companies invested €188.3bn in Research & Development (R&D) in the fiscal year 2015/2016. This constitutes an annual increase of 7.5% which puts EU companies ahead of the global (6.6%) and US (5.9%) trends. 

Global industrial R&D investment reached €696bn worldwide, with sectors such as software, IT, pharmaceuticals and automobiles fostering R&D investments and sales. Overall sales, however, declined 3.6% worldwide, mostly due to the performance of low-tech sectors, particularly oil and mining, which suffered from low commodity prices.

Thirty EU companies are among the world's top 100 R&D investors, mainly in the fields of automobiles, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, ICT, and aerospace and defence. The top investors are based in Germany (€69.8bn), France (€28.5bn), the UK (€28.2bn) and the Netherlands (€14.1bn).

Asian companies showed the highest increases in R&D, especially those based in China (up by 24.7% to €49.8bn), although their sales decreased as well. Globally, the software sector showed the highest year-on-year growth in R&D, of 12.3%, followed by pharma (9.8%), IT hardware (7.6%) and automobiles (6.7%).

The EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard is accompanied by a survey of the 1000 top R&D investors based in the EU. It shows that R&D investments are expected to fall in the coming years in the automobiles and parts sector (-0.8%) while growth of 7 to 8% is expected in high-tech sectors, specifically in healthcare, pharmaceuticals and technology hardware.


The EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, published annually by the European Commission (DG Research & Innovation and the Joint Research Centre) collects companies' key R&D and economic indicators. The 2016 edition reviews the performance of the top 2500 R&D investing companies in the world, which account for around 90% of the total R&D financed by business. A focus on the top 1000 R&D investors in the EU is also included. The Scoreboard is accompanied by the 2016 EU Survey on Industrial R&D Investment Trends.