R&D spending by corporations: 14 Swiss companies among the world's top 500

A study by the audit and consulting firm EY examines the 500 listed companies worldwide with the largest R&D budgets. There are positive signs for Switzerland as a business location.

Image: EY.

The world's most innovative top corporations are investing more heavily in their future: The research and development budgets of the 500 companies with the highest R&D spending worldwide increased by 14 percent year-on-year to the equivalent of 889 billion euros in 2022. 475 billion euros were invested by the 164 corporations headquartered in the United States - an increase of 16 percent compared with the previous year. They are followed - at a considerable distance - by companies from Japan and Germany. These are the findings of a study by the audit and consulting firm EY, for which the 500 listed companies worldwide with the largest R&D budgets were examined.

Switzerland ranks 5th worldwide

R&D spending by the top 14 Swiss investors ranked climbed 5 percent in 2022 to 33 billion euros. In terms of spending in absolute amounts, Switzerland ranks 5th in the world, with only ventures from the U.S., Japan, China and Germany investing more. "In principle, this is a positive sign for Switzerland as a business location. The framework conditions for investments in research and development are still considered attractive," says Stefan Rösch-Rütsche, Country Managing Partner of EY in Switzerland.

R&D investments are investments in the future, he said, and this makes him confident about the prospects for Switzerland as a business location. "At the same time, however, it must be noted that investments in Switzerland have increased by 5 percent, which is significantly less than the investments of the Top 500, which have increased by 14 percent. What's more, these investments focus too one-sidedly on the health sciences sector," says Rösch-Rütsche. In other promising sectors - especially in the technology sector - Switzerland is not among the leaders.

Top 500: One third based in the USA - 14 companies in Switzerland

164 of the 500 companies analyzed come from the USA, followed by companies from Japan (98) and China (38). This means that a third of the companies with the highest R&D spending worldwide are based in the United States. Switzerland ranks 9th with 14 corporations. The following Swiss companies made it into the top 500 with their respective R&D investments:

  • Roche Holding AG (rank 8 with 16 billion euros)
  • Novartis AG (rank 14 with 9.5 billion)
  • STMicroelectronics N.V. (rank 103 with 1.8 billion)
  • Nestlé S.A. (rank 113 with 1.7 billion)
  • ABB Ltd (ranked 160 with 1.1 billion)
  • TE Connectivity Ltd. (ranked 219 with €683 million)
  • Alcon Inc. (ranked 221 with 668 million)
  • Givaudan SA (ranked 261 with 520 million)
  • The Swatch Group Ltd (rank 391 with 245 million)
  • Swisscom AG (ranked 400 with 236 million)
  • Sika AG (ranked 403 with 231 million)
  • Holcim Ltd (ranked 408 with 228 million)
  • Schindler Holding AG (ranked 420 with 207 million)
  • Clariant Ltd (rank 454 with 159 million)

The global top ten - with a company from Switzerland

Seven companies in the global top ten with the highest innovation spending are based in the United States, and six of them are digital groups. Amazon had the largest innovation budget in 2022, followed by Google parent Alphabet, Meta Platforms, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung Electronics and Intel.

Two European companies also occupy positions in the top ten: Roche is in eighth place and Volkswagen in ninth. Behind them comes the US pharmaceutical group Johnson&Johnson - the only company in the top ten where innovation spending fell.


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