Report reveals positive trend for corporate R&D investment

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2012 EU Survey on R&D - .PDF file.

Investments into research and development (R&D) are expected to grow at an average of four per cent between 2012 and 2014, according to a survey of top EU businesses.

The figures, derived from a European Commission survey, show the importance that these companies place on R&D as a key factor for their future growth and prosperity, despite the current economic difficulties.

According to a statement, the frontrunner is the software and computer services sector, which expects R&D investment to grow by 11 per cent per year on average, followed by general industrials (6.8 per cent), automobiles and parts (6.0 per cent), chemicals (5.5 per cent), oil and gas producers (4.6 per cent), aerospace and defence (4.1 per cent), construction and materials (3.8 per cent) and technology hardware and equipment (3.5 per cent).

In-house R&D is seen as the most relevant driver of innovation by the surveyed companies, followed by market research and related activities for new product introduction.

‘This positive trend for corporate R&D investment is essential for European competitiveness,’ said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, commissioner for research, innovation and science. ‘These companies are the main drivers in making the European economy more knowledge based and smarter. Our future research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, will give a further boost to innovative enterprises.’

When asked about the effects of policies and external factors on their innovation activities, surveyed companies highlighted the strong positive effects of fiscal incentives, national grants, EU financial support and public-private partnerships at national and EU level.

In contrast, the time needed to obtain intellectual-property right protection and the costs of that protection were seen by many companies as key factors negatively affecting their innovation activities.

The surveyed companies were also asked about the importance of various ways to share knowledge, with collaboration agreements with other companies standing out as the most important.

For companies active in high-R&D-intensity sectors, this is followed by licensing in/out with other companies, and then agreements with higher-education institutions and other public research organisations.

For companies in medium- and low-R&D-intensity sectors, collaboration agreements with higher-education institutions and other public research organisations are seen as more important than licensing.

In general, the results show the strong importance given to these various ways of sharing knowledge by many companies, which could be a sign of the increasing role of open innovation.