Large European companies upped their spending on research and development this year and, although the increase still lags behind the average for the rest of the world, EU companies are catching up.
A study by the European Commission shows that the top 1,000 companies in the European Union increased R&D spending by 5.3 per cent in 2006. The top 1,000 companies outside the EU raised R&D spending by 7.7 per cent.
EU companies shrank R&D spending by two per cent in 2004 and increased by only 0.7 per cent last year. In the rest of the world, R&D spending increased by 6.7 per cent last year.
"This year's R&D scoreboard is very encouraging," said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research. "If this trend continues, we could gradually close the R&D investment gap."
Car-maker Daimler-Chrysler was the biggest R&D investor among EU companies this year as it was last year.
Eighteen of the top 50 R&D spenders in the world are EU companies. The top 50 includes 18 US companies, 10 Japanese (two fewer than last year), two Swiss and two South Korean.
Most of the top R&D investors are from the auto sector (13 companies), pharmaceuticals (11) and IT hardware (nine).
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