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Policy Contribution

Are European firms falling behind in the global corporate research race?

The author looks at how concentrated corporate R&D is in Europe, compared with sales and employment. The US and China are more likely to produce new R&D leaders that take over some of the top positions from incumbent R&D leaders. How is the EU coping with technology shifts and creating the next generation of new leading firms?

By: Date: April 12, 2018 Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy

Technological progress, such as robotics and artificial intelligence, is often blamed for the loss of jobs and rising income inequality. It is also linked to increasing inequality in the corporate landscape as superstar firms forge ahead in winner-takes-most markets.

Our analysis shows that in most sectors there is a high degree of concentration among a few top companies in research and development spending. R&D spending is much more concentrated than sales and employment. In 2015, for example, the top 10 percent biggest spenders on R&D, accounted for 71 percent of the R&D spending of the 2500 companies that spend most on R&D. This concentration is most obvious in the high-tech biopharma and digital sectors, though it is also true for other sectors, such as the vehicles sector. US companies are overrepresented among these R&D superstars, especially in digital sectors where they take up half of the top slots.

Over the last decade, there has been little evidence for increasing concentration in the global R&D landscape. On the contrary, a slight decline is discernible. Slight increasing concentration can only be detected in digital sectors, with in particular the top 1 percent of R&D spending firms in these sectors forging ahead.

Although the overall concentration of R&D spending among a few leading firms might not be changing much over time, R&D leaders are slowly losing their positions to new R&D-leading firms. Digital Services is the most turbulent high-tech sector. The US and China are more likely to produce new R&D leaders that take over some of the top positions from incumbent R&D leaders. This poses difficult questions for Europe, which is at risk of losing out in terms of R&D leadership in more technologically advanced sectors.

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Upcoming Event

Sep
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Brave new digital industrial policy

Bruegel Annual Meetings, Day 2 - In this session our speakers will dicuss innovation and digitalisation.

Speakers: Francesca Bria, Kerstin Jorna, Marietje Schaake and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Palais des Académies, Rue Ducale 1, Brussels
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Podcast

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Are robots taking our jobs?

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By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 20, 2021
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The recovery facility will boost digital transformation, but questions remain whether it will be sufficient to achieve Europe’s digital ambitions.

By: Zsolt Darvas, J. Scott Marcus and Alkiviadis Tzaras Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 20, 2021
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Past Event

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Speakers: Philippe Donnet and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 8, 2021
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Workers can unlock the artificial intelligence revolution

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By: Mia Hoffmann and Laura Nurski Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 30, 2021
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Working Paper

Platform mergers and antitrust

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By: Geoffrey Parker, Georgios Petropoulos and Marshall Van Alstyne Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 15, 2021
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The Recovery and Resilience Fund: Accelerating the digitalisation of the EU?

How can new EU funds financed by EU borrowing supplement national digital and green funding and EU funds available from the standard seven-year EU budget to accelerate digitalisation?

Speakers: Sam Blackie, Zsolt Darvas, Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez, J. Scott Marcus and Ben Wreschner Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 8, 2021
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Algorithmic management is the past, not the future of work

Algorithmic management is the twenty-first century’s scientific management. Job quality measures should be included explicitly in health and safety risk assessments for workplace artificial-intelligence systems.

By: Laura Nurski Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: May 6, 2021
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Podcast

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Money, money, money!

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By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: April 30, 2021
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Electronic cash might be the future, but it is still unclear what payment innovation it offers for the public, certainly in the euro area. And it is unlikely to fully replace the comfort the consumer feels in having money under the mattress.

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Date: April 27, 2021
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Past Event

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AI regulation at the service of industrial policy?

What role should the EU play in the regulation of AI?

Speakers: Julia Anderson, Joanna Bryson, Annika Linck and Martin Ulbrich Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: April 22, 2021
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We need more bias in artificial intelligence

What makes one vision more desirable than another is not its neutrality, but whether it can better serve one’s goals in the context of where those goals are being pursued.

By: Mario Mariniello Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: April 21, 2021
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