Microsoft, Siemens, IBM and Intel lead tech R&D spenders

Toyota topped the list with US$7.7 billion in R&D spending and Merck invested the most in R&D as a percentage of sales among the top 20 companies, at 21.1 percent.

Microsoft is getting more serious about investing in R&D, according to Booz Allen Hamilton's annual study of the world's largest corporate R&D spenders.

Microsoft ranked 7th on the list for 2006, up a notch from 2005. The company devoted US$6.58 billion to R&D in 2006, up 6.5 percent from the year before and representing 14.9 percent of 2006 sales.

Toyota topped the list with US$7.7 billion in R&D spending and Merck invested the most in R&D as a percentage of sales among the top 20 companies, at 21.1 percent.

Rounding out the list among IT vendors were Siemens, which fell from No. 6 to No. 9, investing in US$6.3 billion for 2006; IBM, which fell from 9th to 10th even though its US$6.1 billion in R&D spending was up 4.5 percent from the year before

Samsung, which stayed in 11th place with US$5.9 billion; Intel, which stayed at 12th and spent US$5.8 billion on R&D; Matsushita, which fell from 15th to 17th and spent US$4.99 billion on R&D in 2006; and Nokia, which fell from 17th to 18th, as its US$4.89 billion in R&D spending represented just a 1.9 percent increase from 2005.

Overall, R&D spending news was positive, according to Booz Allen, which monitors the 1,000 top corporate R&D spenders worldwide. The dollar increase in R&D investment in 2006 compared with 2005 was twice the increase from 2004 to 2005. North American companies led the way, with spending up 13 percent.

R&D spending growth also caught up to sales growth among the top 1,000 companies for the first time in four years.

Access a summary of the study here.

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