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Brussels, 10 December 2004

EU identifies top performers in industrial R&D

The top 500 companies in the EU invested a total of €100b in Research and Development during 2003. But investment in 2003 was lower than in 2002, and non-EU companies are investing more. These are the findings of the first EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, launched today. The Scoreboard provides instructive, up to date comparisons between companies, sectors, and geographical areas, as well as a full picture of the competitive situation of EU firms in the global R&D environment.

"We will need more European industrial R&D champions if we want to compete with our major trading partners in the global knowledge-based economy”, said European Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. "Reaching the 3% target of research spending by 2010, a commitment endorsed at the highest political level in the EU, is needed now more than ever. With two-thirds having to come from the private sector, we need to create an environment that supports such investment. But the commitment of the companies themselves is crucial."

The top five companies in this survey (Daimler Chrysler, Siemens, Volkswagen, Nokia and Glaxo Smith Kline) are in the top 12 globally in terms of investment in research. Each of these major industrial players invested between € 4 and 5.6 billion in R&D worldwide last year. However, while the largest EU companies hold their own globally in R&D terms, the list of the top 500 shows a steep fall-off in R&D investment compared to the non-EU list. As a result, the total R&D expenditure by these companies (€ 101 billion) is about half that of the top 500 from outside the EU (€ 196 billion). The Scoreboard also shows that investment by the top 500 EU companies was 2% down on the 2002 figure, while for the non-EU500 it grew by almost 4 %.

This first EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard was produced as part of the research investment Action Plan[1], which aims to raise the level of R&D investment in the EU to 3 % of GDP, as fixed by the Barcelona European Council in 2002. The Scoreboard lists the research investments of the top 500 EU and top 500 non-EU corporate R&D investors, calculated at the consolidated group level (i.e. companies whose ultimate parent is registered either inside or outside the EU), based on annual audited company reports and accounts published up to 31 July 2004.

The Scoreboard looks at R&D from a different perspective. . While official statistics look at particular territorial, rather than company, units, the Scoreboard focuses on the major R&D-investing companies, regardless of where the R&D is performed. It enables companies, investors and financial analysts to compare research investment among EU companies and sectors, but also with US and Japanese companies.

Key findings are summarised in MEMO/04/295
The document is already available on-line at the

[1] Investing in research: an action plan for Europe COM(2003)226

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