Volkswagen is world’s largest private sector R&D investor

A new report shows that for the first time since 2004, a company in the European Union (EU), Volkswagen, is the world’s largest private sector investor in Research and Development (R&D).

With an R&D investment of €9.5bn ($12.9bn) in 2012, the German carmaker tops the list of the world’s top 2,000 companies ranked according to how much they invested in R&D in 2012.

The list is called the 2013 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard and is based on data drawn from the latest available companies’ accounts, which cover the fiscal year 2012 or 2012/2013.

The investment value of the 2,000 companies in the 2013 Scoreboard account for some 90% of R&D spend by businesses worldwide.

The Scoreboard measures the total value of these companies’ global R&D investment financed with their own funds, regardless of the location of the R&D operation.

The 2013 Scoreboard sample includes companies that invested more than €22.6 million ($30.4 million) in R&D in 2012.

These include 527 companies based in the EU, 658 in the US, 353 in Japan, and 462 in other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Israel, Norway, South Korea, and Switzerland.

R&D has grown despite the recession

This latest edition of the Scoreboard shows that the world’s top private R&D investors are remarkably resilient – their spending on R&D has grown, despite the uncertain economic climate.

It shows that in 2012, companies continued to make significant increases in R&D investments, against a background of slowing net sales growth and falling operating profits.

Nevertheless, there are some significant variations in R&D spend across industries and sectors, matching persistent market uncertainties, such as the uneven potential for global market growth.

The 2013 Scoreboard shows that overall, EU-based firms increased R&D spend by 6.3%, just above the average of the 2000 firms in the sample (6.2%).

However, like last year, this is still less than the 8.2% increase in R&D spend of US-based firms.

EU-based firms in the sample expect to increase their R&D spend by an average of 2.6% per year from 2013 to 2015, which is less than last year’s expectations.

The EU’s overall positive results were largely driven by the growth in German R&D investments, particularly by firms in the car industry.

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said:

“For us, the latest findings from the European Commission’s study are further confirmation of our strategy. Faced with tough global competition, Europe must focus more systematically on environmentally-friendly technologies and competitive products.”

“Investment in research and development is both the foundation and the prerequisite for that, which is why the Volkswagen Group will continue with targeted investment in its innovative strength. We will remain a powerhouse of ideas for the European automotive industry.”

See the full report.

Market Business News recently reported that according to the Ifo Indicator, the euro area economic climate brightened slightly this quarter, although forecasts still look rather gloomy.