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Ireland in EU's Top Ten for research

Thursday, December 06 14:36:16

Figures out today show that Ireland ranks in the top ten EU countries for investment in Research and Development.

This is in spite of the relatively small size of Ireland's economy and the current economic difficulties.

Fourteen of the top-spending companies for R and D are based in Ireland, while R and D spending in Ireland increased by 13pc in 2011.

In the face of the continuing economic and financial crisis, major EU-based firms continue to rely on R&D for their competitive edge.

They increased R and D investment by 8.9pc in 2011, up from 6.1pc in 2010.

The increase nearly matches US firms (9pc), beats the global average (7.6pc) and is far ahead of Japanese companies (1.7pc).

R and D-intensive sectors tended to show above average employment growth.

These are key findings of the European Commission's 2012 "EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard" of the top 1500 global R and D investors.

The global top 50 includes 15 EU companies, 18 US firms and 12 from Japan. Japanese car manufacturer Toyota tops the ranking, with Volkswagen the top EU company in third place (E7.2 billion invested). Recently released Eurostat data shows that combined EU public and private research spending increased to 2.03pc of GDP in 2011, from 2.01pc in 2010. This was mainly due to increased private sector spending.

"Knowledge is the lifeblood of European competitiveness, so the increase in R and D investment by EU companies is a call to arms in our battle for growth and jobs. We now need to match private sector ambition with increased investment in R and D at national and European levels. EU leaders should send a strong signal by approving an ambitious budget for Horizon 2020, our future programme for research and innovation," said Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

Total investment by companies in the scoreboard shows that the US is still ahead of the EU, explained by the higher number of high-tech firms in the US (E178.4 billion versus E144.6 billion). Companies showing the largest R and D expenditure increases among the top 100 are in the ICT sector, such as Huawei (48.4pc), Apple (36.3pc) and STMicroeleectronics (34.5pc). Other companies in the top 100 with large jumps in their levels of R and D investment are from the automobile and parts sectors, some based in the EU such as BMW (21.6pc) and Renault (19.4pc).