The 20 largest R&D and innovation spenders of the globe

15 December 2016 2 min. read
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Volkswagen remains the world’s biggest spender on innovation, while Apple, just, manages to retain its position as the company perceived to be the most innovative by innovation leaders.

According to a study from Strategy&, titled 'Global Innovation 1000', total spending on Research & Development (R&D) by the globe’s 1,000 largest R&D spenders today amounts to $680 billion, up from $508 billion in 2010.

The research also explores the top 20 spenders in terms of R&D investment, finding that the top spot this year goes to Volkswagen – the German automotive giant invested $13.2 billion in R&D, representing a 2.7% increase on last year and 5.6% of its total revenues.

Top 20 R&D spenders

Computer and electronics giant Samsung comes second, investing $12.7 billion into R&D, a -3% decrease on 2015 and around 7.2% of its total revenues. Amazon comes in third, jumping from 7th last year, on investments of $12.5 billion, bumping its total spend to 11.7% of total revenue.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, takes the number four spot, up from 6th last year, with investments totalling $12.3 billion, at around $16.4% of revenue. Intel rounds off the top five, with investments totalling $12.1 billion, around 21.9% of its total revenue.

Microsoft ($12 billion), Roche Holding ($10 billion) and Novartis ($9.5 billion) come in sixth, seventh and eight respectively; while Johnson & Johnson, on $9 billion, comes in ninth spot. Toyota takes the number ten spot on $8.8 billion in spending. Apple improves its placement by 7 position, to 11th spot – spending a mere 3.5% of its revenue on innovation. The rest of the top 20 involves mainly automotive and healthcare players, with software and internet supplier Oracle at number 20.

Most innovative companies

As part of the research, the consulting firm asked survey respondents to rank which companies, in their opinion, are the most innovative. Interestingly, a considerable disparity between investment and ranking was noted, both in absolute terms and as a % of revenues.

Top 10 most innovative companies

Apple takes the number one spot, where it has been since 2010, even in light of its lowest ranked place in the top 20 in terms of spending as a % of revenue. The report notes however that Apple’s lead on key rival, and second spot holder, Alphabet, has shrunk in recent years. 3M, following a decline in the ranking that saw it drop to sixth place, has again claimed the number three spot, beating out Tesla, which has seen its perceived innovativeness increase since 2013 to become number three last year and number four this year. Amazon rounds off the top five. 

Samsung comes in at number six, falling from the number three spot in 2013, while Facebook claws its way to number seven, from intermittent rankings at number 10 in previous years. GE has seen steady decline to number 9, while Toyota, at number 5 in 2010, has fallen off the ranking. IBM takes the number ten spot.