Which sectors carry out R&D?

Of course, it is still the major carmakers that spend the most money on innovative R&D: More than a third of the money invested in R&D by business goes into vehicle manufacturing. This amounted to a good 26 billion euros in 2021. The automotive industry also employs the largest number of people in research, providing more than 137,000 jobs. The electronics, mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical and chemical industries are the other major investors when it comes to R&D.

Advance of biotech and ICT

However, bright new stars are also appearing in the research sky: driven by the need for vaccines during the coronavirus pandemic, biotech companies have massively increased their R&D expenditure.

The information and communications technology (ICT) industry is also seeing rapid growth in research spending. In this sector it is particularly companies that focus on artificial intelligence, apps and cloud computing that are the driving force.

And it is the small firms that are devoting themselves more and more to R&D. In 2021 they increased their expenditure by more than 8 per cent, whereas large companies stepped up their spending by 6.5 per cent.

Facts and figures

The biggest R&D investors are the automotive, electronics and mechanical engineering industries.

The biggest increases (21.2%) in investment were seen in the area of scientific R&D, which also includes biotech firms.

SMEs increased their R&D expenditure by 8.2% in 2021 – significantly more than the average figure of 6.7%.