Which are the leading German companies in R&D?

By international standards, German business is right at the forefront of research and development. One of the leading companies worldwide in terms of R&D investment is the carmaker Volkswagen. It spent approx. 15.6 billion euros on R&D in 2021 alone. In the same rankings, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Robert Bosch are all among the top 30 corporations worldwide.

Research for high technology

In terms of R&D intensity – that is to say the proportion of turnover spent on internal R&D – high technology firms increased their internal R&D expenditure by more than 7 per cent in 2021. External investment even rose by 35 per cent. This is thanks above all to biotechnology, which is one of the most R&D-intensive sectors alongside pharmaceuticals and electronics.

A key role in this was played by the Mainz-based biotech enterprise BioNTech. The company is famous for the leading role it played in developing coronavirus vaccines. BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer were granted the world’s first approval of a vaccine to combat COVID-19.

World-class innovators

When it comes to international patent applications (in line with the Patent Cooperation Treaty, PCT), German companies are among the top business PCT applicants: The world’s leading patent applicants include the automotive component supplier and electronics manufacturer Bosch, the engineering company Siemens, the chemical giant BASF and the family-owned Schaeffler.

Facts and figures

The carmaker Volkswagen is the German company that invests most in R&D.

The top 50 PCT applicants list is composed of companies from only nine countries and includes 4 companies from Germany.