Corporate R&D Spending Declined During 2009 Downturn

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New York — November 30, 2010 — Booz & Company

Barry Jaruzelski

By Industry

  • The auto industry alone accounted for fully two-thirds of the $18 billion contraction in R&D spending. The industry's 14.3 percent decrease in R&D spend slightly outpaced its 12.7 percent decrease in revenue.
  • The computing and electronics industry reported similar, but less drastic, R&D spending reductions with no change in the industry's R&D intensity. Industry revenues were down by 6.7 percent from 2008 to 2009 as a result of the recession and accompanying drop in sales. The 6.7 percent decline in R&D for computers and electronics tracked the decline in revenue.
  • Despite a decline in R&D spending, computing and electronics retained its top spot as the industry that spent the most on innovation, while auto remained at number three. Healthcare took the number two spot, increasing R&D by 1.5 percent, much slower than the industry's revenue growth rate of 6.0 percent.

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By Country/Region

  • R&D spending by companies headquartered in Japan dropped by 10.8 percent, North American spending declined by 2.8 percent, while Europe's declined by just 0.2 percent.
  • In contrast, companies headquartered in China and India boosted R&D spending by 41.8 percent, although from a small base, as they account for only 1 percent of total Global Innovation 1000 corporate R&D spending.

By Company

  • Pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding took the top position for innovation spending, having boosted its R&D spend 11.6 percent to $9.1 billion, replacing Toyota Motor, which cut spending nearly 20 percent and fell to fourth place. In fact, healthcare companies took 5 of the top 10 spots on the list and 7 of the top 20.
  • Microsoft (#2), Nokia (#3) and Pfizer (#5) rounded out the top five.

Spending Doesn't Correlate with Success

Study Methodology