The 2015 Survey on R&D Investment Business Trends The 2015 Survey on R&D Investment Business Trends

This tenth survey on industrial R&D investment trends is based on 162 responses of mainly large firms from a subsample of the 1000 EU-based companies in the 2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard. These 162 companies are responsible for €60 billion R&D investment, constituting around 36% of the total R&D investment by the 1000 EU Scoreboard companies.

The main findings are as follows:

  • The responding companies expect to increase their nominal R&D investment by 3.0% per year during 2015–17. This is a third less than the expected increases of last year's survey (4.2%) and slightly higher than the results of the one the year before (2.6%). 
  • Activities related to Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) are concentrated in environmental and social KETs.
  • Patents filed as reported by the respondent firms are fairly distributed among the different kind of technologies surveyed.
  • The 149 companies which provided information make one-fourth of their R&D outside the EU. Examining the distribution of the expected 3.0% R&D increases by world region, expectations for the EU are slightly lower than the average (2.6% per year over the next three years). Much higher growth is expected in the non-EU world regions: India (15.8%); China (6.9%); the United States and Canada (5.8%); and the rest of the world (3.8%). Expectations for Japan and other European countries have become slightly negative (-0.8% and -1.3%, respectively) and apply to rather small R&D investment amounts.
  • The responding companies' expectations for R&D investment for the next three years show the ongoing participation of European companies in the global economy. While maintaining the focus of their R&D investment in the EU, they reap opportunities for growth in emerging economies.
  • Two out of three of the responding EU-based companies consider their home country the most attractive location for R&D. The United States, Germany, China and India are the most attractive locations mentioned outside the home country.
  • Knowledge-sharing and collaboration (with universities and public research organisations), proximity (to other company sites and technology poles & incubators) and R&D personnel in the labour market (quality, quantity and labour costs) are the criteria that make countries attractive for R&D activity. Quality and quantity of R&D personnel in the labour market clearly rank ahead of labour costs, which are seen as a neutral factor.
  • In a separate comparison of attractiveness factors among R&D sites within the EU, quality of R&D personnel, knowledge-sharing opportunities with universities and public organisations and proximity to other company sites are by far the most frequently stated in the top three.
  • Comparing R&D attractiveness factors within the EU with those for the United States for 33 actual cases, the respondents point to proximity factors, knowledge-sharing opportunities and quality and quantity of R&D personnel as the leading factors for both world regions.
  • Comparing R&D attractiveness factors within the EU with those for China and India, the 11 respondents reveal significant differences between the two world areas.
  • Concerning EU initiatives for structural reforms to boost industrial R&D activity, the highest potential was deemed for making it lighter, simpler and less costly to comply with EU and national laws. This is followed by the improvement of framework conditions and reducing tax complexity.