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Research

Carmaker Volkswagen tops world list of R&D investors

No other company in the world spends more on research into its products than German auto giant Volkswagen. But for European firms as a whole, their R&D spending is a cause for concern, says the EU.

Volkswagen was the world's top private-sector investor in research and development (R&D) in 2012, spending about 9.5 billion euros ($12.8 billion) for the purpose, according to a European Union survey released Monday.

The German carmaker was followed by South Korean electronics firm Samsung, which had invested 8.3 billion euros into developing new products, the EU data showed.

According to the ranking of 2,000 global companies, Volkswagen was the only EU firm which had made it into the top 10. Other companies in the leading group of R&D investors were US companies Microsoft, Intel, Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, as well as Swiss companies Roche and Novartis and Japan's Toyota.

“The EU still lags behind its main competitors in business investment in R&D,“ said EU Research and Innovation Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, adding that this was a worrying sign for the 28-nation bloc.

Noting the positive result for EU firms in the automobile sector, she also said that more must be spent in high-tech sectors such as biotechnology and software.

German firms drive Europe's rise

The EU survey showed that global expenditure on R&D rose by an average of 6.2 percent in 2012 compared with the previous year. EU companies reached a slightly higher rise, with 6.3 percent on average.

However, Europe's increase among the 130 firms listed was mainly driven by those of German origin, accounting for almost 60 percent of the bloc's total.

China boasted the largest year-on-year increase with an average increase of 12.2 percent for its 93 companies included in the rankings. Companies in the United States were up 8.2 percent, while Japanese firms increased development spending by 0.4 percent.

uhe/ph (dpa, AFP)