R&D investing companies by country

The 2018 Scoreboard comprises the 2500 companies investing the largest sums in R&D in the world in 2017. These companies, based in 46 countries, each invested over 25 million in R&D for a total of 736.4bn which is approximately 90% of the world's business-funded R&D.

Key figures by country

The 2500 companies raised their total R&D by a substantial 8.3% over the previous year, the eighth consecutive year of significant increases.
Worldwide, net sales increased more than the R&D investment across most industries and countries.
The number of employees by the 2500 companies increased modestly (+2.1%).

R&D investment


The 577 EU companies invested 200.1bn in R&D, an important increase in this period (5.5%) although at a slower pace than in the previous year.
For the EU sample, the largest contribution to R&D growth was made by Automobiles, Health industries and ICT producers.


R&D is very much concentrated by country and world region. The top 3, top 5 and top 10 countries account respectively for 62%, 75% and 91% of the total R&D investment.
The four largest R&D investing sectors (ICT producers, Health industries, Automobiles & other transport and ICT services) account for 76% of the total R&D of the 2500 companies.

R&D investment and net sales trends

Over the past 10 years, the R&D share of EU companies over the total R&D remained practically unchanged, about 30%. The main change in this indicator is observed for the Japanese companies whose R&D share fell by ca. 6 percentage points. The loss of R&D share by Japanese companies corresponds to increases in R&D shares for the other countries/regions, especially for companies based in China.

Volume of R&D investment

In the period 2008-2017, the world 1431 companies increased R&D by 47%, net sales by 20% and employment by 19%.

10 Years evolution by sector

On the whole, only three sectors increased their R&D shares: ICT services, Health industries and Automobiles. EU companies reinforced their specialisation in medium-high tech sectors, increasing significantly their R&D contribution to the global R&D of Automobiles. On the other side, EU companies' main reduction of global R&D share was in ICT producers and Aerospace & Defence.

EU Survey

The EU Survey on Industrial R&D Investment Trend enquired companies on factors affecting the location of R&D activities. Labour costs for researchers do not seem to be an important factor of attractiveness. Instead, the factors that have the highest share of attractive and highly attractive are the quality and high availability of researchers and proximity to a company’s other activities (e.g. its production activities).