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12 alternative energy companies among largest R&D investors in EU

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The European Commission has published its 2011 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard showing that while European companies lag behind global competitors, R&D investment by top EU companies recovered strongly in 2010, with a 6.1% rise following a 2.6% decrease in 2009. A dozen alternative energy companies appear in the top 400 European ranking, with Danish wind energy firm, Vestas, leading the segment.
12 alternative energy companies among largest R&D investors in EU

The EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard is published annually by the European Commission (DG Research and Innovation and Joint Research Centre) and provides information on the world's top 1,400 companies (400 based in the EU and 1,000 from outside) ranked by their investments in R&D. It measures the total value of their global R&D investment, irrespective of the location where the relevant R&D takes place.

Data in the scoreboard show EU companies as a whole lagging behind major competitors from the US and some Asian economies on R&D growth. There was a general positive trend in 2010, as global R&D investment increased by 4%, a robust up-turn after the 1.9% drop observed in 2009. The global top 50 in terms of total R&D investment includes 15 EU companies, 18 US firms and 13 from Japan.

Two pharmaceutical companies occupied the top spots: Roche from Switzerland (€7.2 billion) followed by Pfizer from the US (€7 billion). Volkswagen (€6.3 billion), in sixth place, is the biggest EU investor in R&D, followed by Nokia (11th with €4.9 billion), Daimler (13th with €4.8 billion) and Sanofi-Aventis (14th with €4.4 billion). "The upturn in R&D investment by EU companies is a positive signal as we seek to boost growth and jobs through innovation in Europe. However, the fact that we are still lagging behind some global competitors shows we have to improve conditions for business further, in line with our Innovation Union goals. We need quick adoption and implementation of recent and up-coming European Commission proposals on the unitary patent, on standards, public procurement and risk capital," commented Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

More than two thirds of R&D investment of EU Scoreboard companies is from those located in the three biggest Member States, with German companies showing the highest one-year growth (8.1%). This is mostly due to a few automotive companies (Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW). UK companies' R&D investment growth was 5.8%, close to the EU average, compared to 3.8% for French companies.

In other Member States, a few large players account for high shares of R&D investment growth. These include Novo Nordisk (27.3%) and Vestas (49.8%) in Denmark and Banco Santander (56.3%), Telefonica (16%) and Amadeus (33.2%) in Spain. Indeed, the Danish company, Vestas, topped the ranking in Europe for alternative energy companies, with €358 Million. The wind turbine manufacturer also came a very respectable 63rd in the overall EU rankings for all sectors.

A further eleven companies operating in the clean energy space also appeared among the top 400 EU companies on the scoreboard: SMA Solar Technology, centrotherm photovoltaics, LM Wind Power, Nordex, Roth & Rau, Q-Cells, Solar World, 3w Power, Hansen Transmissions International, PV Crystalox Solar and Solon. Seven of these are from Germany.

Combined, these 12 alternative energy companies, most of which operate in the wind and solar Pbv segments, invested a total of €7.6 billion in R&D in 2010; 0.6% more than in 2009 and 2.1% higher than three years ago.

For additional information:

2011 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard

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