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R&D spending: Here are the Top 10 firms

November 15, 2010

Published by The Christian Science Monitor

Apple, Google, and 3M may top Bloomberg’s list of the world’s most innovative companies, but they’re not the biggest research and development spenders – not even part of the Top 20. Out of 1,000 publicly traded companies with the highest R&D spending in 2009, here are the Top 10, according to a survey by management-consulting firm Booz & Co.:

10. Samsung

South Korea’s largest conglomerate spent $6 billion on R&D in 2009, a 7.9 percent jump from the year before. Though its name is perhaps best known for cellphones, the company’s 10 R&D centers also conduct research on computer software, digital TV, advanced printing functions, and high storage-low power hard drives. In 2010, new Samsung products released include the first infrared video phone, the first full high-definition camcorder, and, at 6.5 millimeters, the world’s thinnest TV.

9. GlaxoSmithKline

The London-based pharmaceutical company invested about $6.2 billion in R&D, a 12.7 percent increase from 2008. That’s the largest jump of any Top 10 company, according to Booz & Co. GlaxoSmithKline was the fourth-largest pharmaceutical company based on revenue in 2009, reporting almost $46 billion, and formed in 2000 after a merger between GlaxoWellcome and SmithKline Beecham, both of London. With 13 R&D locations worldwide, the company has its sights set on new products. Recent developments include an H1N1 vaccine and a patent pool to investigate neglected tropical diseases.

8. Sanofi-Aventis

One of five pharmaceutical companies on the Top 10 list, Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis put $6.3 billion toward R&D, only a 0.2 percent increase from the preceding year. In 2009, the company launched a new program to drive R&D, adding 18 partnerships and licensing agreements and two new acquisitions. Sanofi-Aventis’s portfolio is 60 percent biological products and 55 percent external research.

7. Johnson & Johnson

Based in New Brunswick, N.J., the 124-year-old pharmaceutical and packaged-goods corporation spent 7.8 percent less on R&D in 2009 than in 2008. Still, the company – ranked No. 1 in total revenue among pharmaceutical companies worldwide, with nearly $62 billion – devoted $7 million on new products. The corporation has significant global reach: 10 research hubs, 250 subsidiary company, operations in 57 countries, and products sold in more than 175 countries.

6. Novartis

The Swiss-based pharmaceutical company put $7.5 billion into R&D, 3.5 percent more than in the previous year. That’s in sharp contrast to the average company in the Booz and Co. survey, which cut R&D spending by 3.5 percent. According to its website, Novartis has 143 R&D projects in various stages of clinical development at 20 locations on three continents. In addition to research pertaining to human diseases and conditions, the company does work in animal health, for both pets and livestock. Novartis was formed in 1996 by the merger of two Swiss companies, Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz Laboratories.

5. Pfizer

Although Pfizer’s R&D spending went down 2.6 percent, the $7.7 billion it devoted to innovation still put it at No. 5 on the Top 10 list. Founded in 1849, the New York City-based pharmaceutical company saw total revenue and net income increase in the period. In its 2009 annual report, the company said it is trying to focus on “areas of great unmet medical need” and R&D “specifically for underserved people in the developing world.” The company had almost 60 compounds in development as of January 2010.

4. Toyota

The Japan-based automaker fell from the top spot in 2008 to fourth place in 2009 after cutting R&D spending to $7.8 billion, an almost 20 percent drop. Overall, the auto industry accounted for $18 billion in R&D spending decreases, a full two-thirds of the total for all the 1,000 companies in the survey. Divisions of Toyota’s R&D headquarters, Toyota Technical Center (TTC), have been “pursuing Sustainable Mobility, which addresses four key priorities: advanced technologies, urban environment, energy, and partnerships with government and academia.” The company has announced plans to spend $100 million in the next four years on this kind of advanced research at the TTC Ann Arbor, Mich. campus.

3. Nokia

The Finnish telecommunications, Internet, and computer software company spent $8.2 billion last year on R&D, a small 1 percent decrease from the preceding year. Net sales at Nokia fell 19 percent and operating profit dropped a whopping 76 percent. This year, the company is focusing on integrating its devices, “including music, maps, apps, email and more,” onto a new brand called Ovi. As of October 2010, Nokia had 140 million service users worldwide and 2.3 million daily downloads on Ovi.

2. Microsoft

The self-proclaimed “worldwide leader in software, services and solutions” made both Bloomberg’s and Booz & Co.’s lists of most innovative companies. The software and Internet company spent $9 billion on R&D, 10.4 percent more than in 2008. Net income in the last fiscal year went up 29 percent at four operation centers and 100 subsidiaries worldwide. Recent product launches include Windows 7 in October 2009, also Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 in May 2010. In the works are Project Emporia, a site that “sifts through the ever-evolving web content streams to identify hot stories” and a kid-friendly programming game Kodu.

1. Roche Holding

The Swiss-based global health-care company took over the top spot this year, spending $9.1 billion or 11.6 percent more than the year before. Although net income was down 22 percent, Roche’s operating profit and group sales both increased in 2009. The 114-year-old company has locations in almost 90 countries and specializes in innovating “products and services for early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.”

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