The 2021 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard

Date
17 Dec 2021
Author(s)
Grassano, N., Hernandez Guevara, H., Fako, P., Tuebke, A., Amoroso, S., Georgakaki, A., Napolitano, L., Pasimeni, F., Rentocchini, F., Compaño, R., Fatica, S. and Panzica, R.

The main objective of the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard (the Scoreboard) is to benchmark the performance of EU innovation-driven industries against major global counterparts and to provide an R&D investment database that companies, investors and policymakers can use to compare individual company performances against the best global competitors in their sectors.

The 2021 edition of the Scoreboard analyses the 2500 companies that invested the largest sums in R&D worldwide in 2020. These companies, with headquarters in 39 countries, and more than 800k subsidiaries all over the world, each invested over €36 million in R&D in 2020. The total investment across all 2500 companies was €908.9bn, an amount equivalent to 90% of the world’s business-funded R&D.

The top 2500 includes 401 companies based in the EU, accounting for 20% of the total, 779 US companies (38%), 597 Chinese companies (16%), 293 Japanese companies (12%) and 430 from the rest of the world (RoW, 14%). The RoW group comprises companies from South Korea (60), Switzerland (57), UK (105), Taiwan (86) and companies based in a further 15 countries.

This report analyses companies' R&D, patents and other financial performance indicators over recent years, focusing on the comparative performance of EU companies and their global counterparts. Moreover, it includes a patent-based analysis showing the positioning of the EU in green technology for energy intensive industries; and a study exploring the role of the Scoreboard companies in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In 2020, the pandemic hit global business hard causing a significant drop in companies’ sales, profits and capital expenditures. However, overall R&D investment was sustained by increases in sectors positively affected by the crisis, namely ICT services and Health industries while most other sectors decreased R&D investment, particularly the transport-related industries that have been most strongly affected by the lockdown.

The results of this report highlight the challenges and opportunities facing the EU as it seeks to improve its R&D capability and reinvigorate its industrial base, in line with the priorities of the new industrial and innovation EU policy, particularly in the context of the digital and green transitions.

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