EU Industrial R&D Scoreboard: Tax-inverted brass-plate companies dominate in Ireland
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Dec 4, 2014 - 2:14 PM

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Investment in research and development by companies based in the EU grew by 2.6% in 2013, despite the unfavourable economic environment. However, this growth has slowed in comparison to the previous year's 6.8%. It is also below the 2013 world average (4.9%), and lags behind companies based in the US (5%) and Japan (5.5%). The data show that Irish-based companies increased spending by 13.6% in 2013 - however most of the spending was done by US companies that are tax-inversions, which have moved their headquarters to Ireland for tax purposes.

Of the top 1,000 EU companies, on the Irish list, Seagate of the US is at 59 and spent €889m; Accenture of US/Bermuda and now Ireland spent €518.5m.

According to Eurostat total R&D spending in Ireland was at €2.7bn and the top 7 US companies/tax inversions on the Irish list also spent €2.7bn in 2013.

Kerry is at 154 with a spend of €158.2m while Glanbia is at 590 with a small spend of €17.7m.

In total of 22 Irish-based companies (Elan is on the list but is under new ownership and is now a tax inversion), only 7 could be termed Irish

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These results of the Scorecard published today in the European Commission's 2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, which analyses the top 2500 companies worldwide, representing about 90% of the total business R&D expenditure. Data show that EU-based companies (633) invested €162.4bn in 2013, whereas US-based companies (804) invested €193.7bn and the 387 Japanese ones €85.6bn.

Carlos Moedas, commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said: "Despite the harsh economic climate, EU companies continue to invest in R&D. That is good news, but more is needed to keep up with our competitors. With public resources limited, attracting private R&D investment is even more essential. Horizon 2020 is already engaging more businesses than ever before, but now we're ready to step up our game. The €315bn investment plan presented by the Commission and European Investment Bank will help to raise more private investment for riskier projects, benefiting R&D across Europe."

R&D top investing companies and sectors

The EU-based carmaker Volkswagen leads the global ranking for the second consecutive year with a total R&D investment of €11.7bn (a 23.4 % increase). The second and third place in the ranking are occupied by Samsung (South Korea) and Microsoft (US).

The automobile sector, where investments continued to increase by 6.2%, accounts for one quarter of the total R&D invested by the EU Scoreboard companies. On the other hand, high-tech sectors such as pharmaceuticals or technology hardware and equipment have experienced weaker growth and lowered the overall average of R&D investment in Europe.


The Scoreboard companies employed 48 million staff worldwide in 2013. Over the last 8 years (2005-2013), EU based companies have increased employment by 18.2%, with higher R&D intensity sectors driving that growth. This trend remains strong, despite the small decrease in employment (0.6%) by EU companies last year.


For EU based companies, 97% of the total R&D investment is by companies based in 10 countries. The overall performance is largely driven by companies based in three countries: Germany, France and the UK, which account for more than two thirds of the total. In Germany and the UK, companies' investment continued to grow (5.9% and 5.2% respectively) above the average while French companies saw a decrease in R&D investment (-3.4%).

Declining investment in a few major EU companies particularly affected the R&D investment rate of their county. This was the case with Nokia (-17.1%) or STMicroelectronics (-19.2%) which had significant impact on the overall investment in Finland (-11.6%) and the Netherlands (-0.1%), two of the top ten countries in Europe.

Meanwhile, Scoreboard companies based in some EU countries saw their R&D investment increase above the world average: besided the distorted data for Ireland (13.6%); Italy at (6.4%) is above the EU average: Spain is at (4.4%).

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