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Volkswagen, Samsung top EU list of world’s top R&D investors

DPA Brussels | Updated on November 18, 2013

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German carmaker Volkswagen is the world’s top private-sector investor in research and development (R&D), followed by South Korean electronics giant Samsung, according to EU data released on Monday.

Volkswagen topped the list with 9.5 billion euros ($ 12.8 billion) of R&D investments in 2012, while Samsung stood at 8.3 billion euros.

But the figures showed that European companies have to do more to keep up with competitors in China and the United States, as the bloc seeks to overcome its economic crisis.

“The EU still lags behind its main competitors in business investment in R&D,” said EU Research and Innovation Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, adding that there were some “worrying signs” for the 28-member bloc.

“Despite the positive results of top EU companies in important industrial sectors such as automobiles, we are still too weak in high tech sectors such as biotechnology and software,” Geoghegan-Quinn added.

Volkswagen was the only European firm to reach the top 10, which also comprised US-based companies Microsoft, Intel, Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, Swiss companies Roche and Novartis and Japan’s Toyota.

The ranking includes 2,000 global companies, of which just over a quarter are EU-based.

Global R&D investment rose by an average of 6.2 per cent in 2012 compared to the previous year, the figures showed. Europe reached a slightly higher rise of 6.3 per cent, but was eclipsed by the United States, where investments went up by 8.2 per cent compared to 2011.

Japanese companies only increased their R&D spending by 0.4 per cent, while China had the largest year-on-year rise, at an average of 12.2 per cent for the 93 companies measured.

Europe’s increase was largely driven by the performance of German companies, particularly in the automotive sector, the report found.

The 130 German companies in the list increased R&D spending by 11.9 per cent, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the bloc’s increase.

Published on November 18, 2013

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