Pfizer world's top research spender

The European Commission said Friday that Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drugmaker, is the world's top spender on research. Johnson & Johnson, software giant Microsoft Corp. and auto companies Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG are left behind.

Pfizer spent EUR5.8 billion (US$8.18 billion) last year to take the top spot from Ford on the EU's research and development list, which uses figures from the world's 50 largest companies to chart how much they invest in researching new products.

The four biggest spenders were all from the United States: Pfizer, Ford, J&J, and Microsoft, as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies sharply increased research spending to overtake technology hardware and equipment.

Major drugmakers are focusing more on research to develop new products that will help them compensate for losing their exclusive rights to sell many of their best-selling drugs.

U.S.-based Merck & Co. raised investment by 24 percent, AstraZeneca PLC by 15 percent, J&J by 13 percent and GlaxoSmithKline PLC by 10 percent, the EU said.

Germany's DaimlerChrysler, which is changing its name to Daimler AG after the sale of most of its U.S. unit, was Europe's highest scorer with EUR5.2 billion (US$7.34 billion). Britain's GlaxoSmithKline ranked No. 7 with German engineering giant Siemens AG at No. 8.

The European Union's research commissioner Janez Potocnik said more European companies needed to invest more of their own money in research.

The EU compiles the chart to encourage European companies to spend more on research, saying that is key to expanding their businesses and the European economy.

Worldwide corporate investment in research grew by 10 percent last year, riding the wave of global economic growth. But the EU warned that Europe-based companies increased their spending at a slower rate - at 7.4 percent.

The European Commission looked at spending by 1,000 companies based in Europe and another 1,000 based outside, saying overall these businesses invested EUR372 billion (US$525 billion) in research in the last financial year, more than 85 percent of all research investment worldwide.

The chemicals sector increased research investment by nearly 10 percent after cutting spending last year, it said. European companies stepped up outlays dramatically - with Bayer AG up 30 percent, Solvay SA up 20 percent and BASF AG by just under 20 percent as they bought new firms and concentrated on developing new products.

Aerospace and defense also increased investment by 12.5 percent. European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. NV - the owner of Airbus - stepped up spending by 21 percent while U.S.-based rival Boeing Co. shelled out just under 48 percent more.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova