The 2017 Global
Innovation 1000 study

Investigating trends at the world’s 1000 largest corporate R&D spenders.

Will Stronger Borders Weaken Innovation?

The flow of talent, investment, and ideas that has boosted companies’ global R&D efforts may soon be impeded by the rise of economic nationalism.

Economic nationalism is motivated by a range of intentions, many of which continue to be hotly debated. But there is an unintended consequence that has received less attention to date: As many politicians and policymakers in the world’s major economic powers look inward, the world of innovation has been thrown into uncertainty. The global innovation model long embraced by leading multinationals, one based on the free flow of information, money, and talent across borders, is at risk. The policies inspired by economic nationalism may prove self-defeating, in part by disrupting R&D activities for the new products and services that will generate the jobs, growth, and wealth of the future.

Global key findings

  • Economic nationalism
  • Mapping vulnerability
  • Global innovation model
  • Global Innovation 1000

52% of survey respondents said that economic nationalism will have a moderate or significant impact on their company’s R&D efforts.

The US, UK and China are most at risk from potential changes in policy that could impact R&D efforts. Canada, Germany and France are most likely to gain if protectionist policies became a long term reality.

Economic nationalism would result in the replacement of today’s integrated and interdependent network with more self-sufficient, fully-functioning R&D nodes. This could mean companies losing efficiency and taking on higher costs if it is not managed effectively.

Worldwide R&D spending among the world’s 1000 largest corporate R&D spenders increased 3.2 percent in 2017 to $702 billion.


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Will Stronger Borders Weaken Innovation? »

The 2017 Global Innovation 1000 study

The Global Innovation 1000 study analyses spending at the world's 1000 largest publicly listed corporate R&D spenders. The interactive data tool below lists the Top 25 largest corporate R&D spenders from the years 2011-2017 worldwide. You can use the tool to filter by year, company name, country, and industry group to view R&D expenditures, Revenue, and R&D intensity (R&D expenditure as a percentage of Revenue). In order to see the complete list of Top 1000 corporate R&D spenders from the years 2011-2017 see the "Download the Data" section. Click here for the methodology.

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Strategy&’s 2017 Global Innovation 1000 study Methodology

As it has in each of the past 12 editions of the Global Innovation 1000, this year Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business, identified the 1,000 public companies around the world that spent the most on R&D during the last fiscal year, as of June 30, 2017. To be included, companies had to make their R&D spending numbers public. Subsidiaries that were more than 50 percent owned by a single corporate parent during the period were excluded if their financial results were included in the parent company’s financials. The Global Innovation 1000 companies collectively account for 40 percent of the world’s R&D spending, from all sources, including corporate and government sources.

In 2013, Strategy& made some adjustments to the data collection process in order to gain a more accurate and complete picture of innovation spending. In prior years, both capitalized and amortized R&D expenditures were excluded. Starting in 2013, we included the most recent fiscal year’s amortization of capitalized R&D expenditures for relevant companies in calculating the total R&D investment, while continuing to exclude any non- amortized capitalized costs. We have now applied this methodology to all previous years’ data; as a result, historical data referenced in the studies from 2014 onward will not always align with previously published figures for the 2005 through 2012 studies.

For each of the top 1,000 companies, we obtained from Bloomberg and Capital IQ the key financial metrics for 2012 through 2017, including sales, gross profit, operating profit, net profit, historical R&D expenditures, and market capitalization. All sales and R&D expenditure figures in foreign currencies were converted into U.S. dollars according to an average of the exchange rate over the relevant period; for data on share prices, we used the exchange rate on the last day of the period.

All companies were coded into one of nine industry sectors (or “other”) according to Capital IQ’s industry designations, and into one of five regional designations, as determined by their reported headquarters locations. To enable meaningful comparisons across industries, the R&D spending levels and financial performance metrics of each company were indexed against the average values in its own industry.

Finally, to understand the ways in which global R&D is and will be conducted at companies across multiple industries, Strategy& conducted an online survey of 562 innovation leaders around the world. The companies participating represented more than US$100 billion in R&D spending, or 14.4 percent of this year’s total Global Innovation 1000 R&D spending, all nine of the industry sectors, and all five geographic regions.

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