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Growth of business R&D expenditure slows in EU

EU businesses increased their investment in research and development (R&D) by 2.6% on average in 2013, but the rate of growth in R&D expenditure was lower than the previous year, according to the European Commission.

The 2.6% growth rate was below the 6.8% rise in R&D expenditure by EU companies recorded in 2012, and below the average 5% and 5.5% rises in R&D investment recorded in the US and Japan respectively for 2013.

The figures were published in the Commission's 2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard (108-page / 3.67MB PDF), which measures what the world's top 2,500 companies spend on R&D. The results gathered are said to reflect about 90% of total global business R&D expenditure.

According to the Scoreboard, 633 businesses based in the EU invested €162.4 billion in R&D projects in 2013, compared to €193.7bn spent by 804 US-based companies. Japanese businesses in the world's top 2,500, of which there are 387, spent €85.6bn on R&D during the period.

The report charted differences in the level of growth in R&D expenditure by EU companies depending on what sectors they operate in. While EU car manufacturers increased their R&D investment in 2013 by an average of 6.2% on 2012 levels, pharmaceuticals companies' comparative growth in R&D investment was only 0.9% higher than in 2012. EU businesses operating in the technology hardware and equipment market spent 5.4% less on R&D in 2013 than they did the previous year, it said.

Volkswagen, Samsung and Microsoft were the top three R&D spenders in 2013, according to the Commission's study, with computing giants Intel and Google, pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Roche and German car manufacturer Daimler also in the top 10. Volkswagen spent £11.7bn on R&D in 2013, the report said.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said: "Despite the harsh economic climate, EU companies continue to invest in R&D. That is good news, but more is needed to keep up with our competitors. With public resources limited, attracting private R&D investment is even more essential."

"The €315 billion investment plan presented by the Commission and European Investment Bank will help to raise more private investment for riskier projects, benefiting R&D across Europe," he said.

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