2010 EU survey: monitoring industrial research

By Martin Ince, convenor of the QS Global Academic Advisory Board

Europe’s universities have received a qualified vote of confidence from companies in the EU. The European Commission’s latest survey of business research shows that they regard collaboration with universities as a principal reason to do research in the EU.

They also say that the availability of qualified personnel is the top reason, out of 15 surveyed, for locating their labs in Europe.

The survey shows that the 205 firms in the EU plan to increase their research and development spending by 5 per cent per year between 2010 and 2013, well ahead of the 2 per cent that they reported a year earlier. This is a remarkable result given the European economic outlook.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, which carried out the survey, says that the firms that responded carry out about €40 billion of research per year. They do three quarters of it in the EU, 13 per cent in the US and Canada and the rest across China, Japan, India and non-EU Europe. One ominous sign is that spending outside the EU is set to grow. While they plan to increase their R&D spending within the EU by 3 per cent per year, they are eyeing annual growth of 25 per cent in China, 8 per cent in India, 17 per cent in Japan and 5 per cent in the US and Canada. Firms say that the growing economic importance of India and China compels them to do more research there.

Of the firms surveyed, 40 per cent say that buying research from outside partners, including universities, is important to their R&D effort. 80 per cent say that collaboration with universities and other higher education institutions is important or highly important to them. This means that they rate university collaboration as being second only to the ease of recruiting skilled personnel as a reason to do research in Europe. University collaboration is especially important to the most research-intensive firms, those in industries such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, which spend more than 5 per cent of turnover on R&D.

The full report is at http://tinyurl.com/3sqbxer.

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