Astrazeneca and GlaxoSmithKline top UK R&D spenders as Amazon wins crown worldwide

 
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The pharma sector led the way in British R&D spending (Source: Getty)

The pharmaceutical industry accounted for nearly half of research and development spending in the UK, with giants Astrazeneca and GlaxoSmithKline the two biggest spenders, according to a new study published today.

Astrazeneca spent $5.9bn (£4.5bn) on research, which accounted for a massive 25.6 per cent of its revenue, while GlaxoSmithKline’s spent $4.5bn, or 13 per cent, accountants PwC will report.

The US dominated the global rankings of the top 1,000 publicly listed corporate R&D spenders, with online retail behemoth Amazon topping the charts for research spending worldwide, splashing out $16.1bn over the year, followed by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, at $13.9bn.

The top non-American firm was South Korean electronics giant Samsung, which outspent its main rival for market share in mobile phones, Apple, by $2.7bn.

The 2017 UK top 10

2017 2016 Worldwide rank Company Industry

R&D spending ($bn)

1 1 21 Astrazeneca Healthcare 5.9
2 2 35 GlaxoSmithKline Healthcare 4.5
3 3 44 Fiat Chrysler Auto 3.5
4 5 121 Delphi Automotive Auto 1.2
5 4 124 Rolls-Royce Aerospace 1.1
6 8 167 CNH Industrial Industrials 0.9
7 7 182 BT Group Telecom 0.8
8 New 288 Travelport Worldwide Software and internet 0.4
9 10 304 BP Chemicals and energy 0.4
10 12 432 Micro Focus International Software and internet 0.3

Read more: AstraZeneca is hoping for a three-year Brexit transition period

The top European R&D spender was Volkswagen, which fell from first position to fifth worldwide compared to 2017, after a 7.7 per cent fall in spending.

Alphabet dethroned Apple as the most innovative company, according to a poll of more than 500 research and development (R&D) executives from around the world.

There were no UK firms in the top 20 worldwide, with Astrazeneca 21st overall. Only 36 British companies made the top 1,000. They invested a total of $23bn between them, accounting for 3.3 per cent of the global total of $700bn.

Read more: Businesses must put more cash into commercialising top tech research

In the UK the automotive sector was the second biggest contributor to research, with manufacturer Fiat Chrysler and car parts maker Delphi Automotive third and fourth respectively.

Rolls Royce came fifth in the UK, followed by CNH Industrials. The manufacturer of industrial goods.

The UK is among the major economies most at risk of a hit to crucial research and development from a rise in economic protectionism, according to a poll carried out alongside the research.

Some 52 per cent of R&D bosses worldwide surveyed thought an increase in economic nationalism would directly harm their research efforts.

The country most often cited by executives as at risk is the United States, followed by the UK and then China, according to the report.

Nearly a third of R&D executives surveyed report that they have already felt the effects of economic nationalism on their recruitment because of visa or work restrictions.

John Potter, a partner in PwC’s consulting arm, said: “To deliver innovation, many of world’s largest companies rely on shifting talent, money, and ideas across borders. If policies in the major global economic powers start to focus more inwardly, however, this would cast uncertainty over companies’ innovation plans and their current models would need to evolve.

The top 20 R&D spenders worldwide in 2017

2017 2016 Company 2017 R&D spend (bn) % change vs 2016 % of revenue Industry
1 3 Amazon $16.1 28.30% 11.80%

Software and Internet

2 4 Alphabet $13.9 13.60% 15.50%

Software and Internet

3 5 Intel $12.7 5.00% 21.50%

Computing and Electronics

4 2 Samsung $12.7 –0.1% 7.60%

Computing and Electronics

5 1 Volkswagen $12.1 –7.7% 5.30% Auto
6 6 Microsoft $12.0 –0.5% 14.10%

Software and Internet

7 7 Roche Holding $11.4 14.00% 21.90% Healthcare
8 14 Merck $10.1 51.00% 25.40% Healthcare
9 11 Apple $10.0 24.50% 4.70%

Computing and Electronics

10 8 Novartis $9.6 0.60% 19.40% Healthcare
11 10 Toyota $9.3 5.70% 3.80% Auto
12 9 Johnson & Johnson $9.1 0.50% 12.70% Healthcare
13 13 General Motors $8.1 8.00% 4.90% Auto
14 12 Pfizer $7.9 2.40% 14.90% Healthcare
15 15 Ford $7.3 9.00% 4.80% Auto
16 16 Daimler $6.9 3.30% 4.20% Auto
17 20 Oracle $6.8 17.80% 18.10%

Software and Internet

18 17 Cisco $6.3 1.40% 12.80%

Computing and Electronics

19 23 Honda $6.2 13.30% 4.90% Auto
20 27 Facebook $5.9 22.90% 21.40%

Software and Internet

- - Top 20 Total $194.5 9.40% 8.80% -

Read more: This is the huge amount of money Apple is spending on R&D right now

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