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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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Past Event

Past Event

Bruegel Annual Meetings 2020 - Day 2

Second day of Bruegel Annual Meetings.

Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 2, 2020
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Blog Post

Europe has an artificial-intelligence skills shortage

How severe is Europe’s dearth of AI talent and how does it compare to the United States, China and the United Kingdom – the world’s AI champions?

By: Julia Anderson, Paco Viry and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: August 27, 2020
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Blog Post

Artificial intelligence’s great impact on low and middle-skilled jobs

Artificial intelligence and machine learning will significantly transform low-skilled jobs that have not yet been negatively affected by past technological change.

By: Sybrand Brekelmans and Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 29, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

The role of AI in healthcare

How can AI help us fight through a pandemic crisis?

Speakers: Dimitris Bertsimas, Georgios Petropoulos, Effy Vayena and Reinhilde Veugelers Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 23, 2020
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Working Paper

Occupational change, artificial intelligence and the geography of EU labour markets

From 2002 up to 2009, the economies of European Union countries went through a skill upgrading, rather than a polarisation between low-skill and high-skill jobs. After 2009, this changed, with declining real wages and a significant increase in the share of workers in low-skill jobs. This assessment evaluates these changes in connection with labour market variables, population densities and the emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

By: Sybrand Brekelmans and Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 15, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

Mythbusters: debunking economic myths

Economics seems to be full of myths that are hard to debunk. Will robots take our jobs? Are trade deficits bad? Is China such a big economy simply because of the size of its population? This week, Nicholas Barrett, Maria Demertzis, Marta Domínguez-Jímenez and Niclas Poitiers put on the detective cap and become Bruegel's own economic mythbusters.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: April 3, 2020
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Past Event

Past Event

Find my virus: Mobilising AI and big data to fight COVID-19

At this event, the panellists will discuss the role of AI and big data in the fight against the coronavirus crisis.

Speakers: J. Scott Marcus, Alex Sandy Pentland, Georgios Petropoulos and Marietje Schaake Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: April 2, 2020
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Blog Post

Artificial intelligence in the fight against COVID-19

Artificial intelligence can help fight the coronavirus through applications including population screening, notifications of when to seek medical help and tracking how infection spreads. The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered intense work on such applications, but it will take time before results become visible.

By: Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: March 23, 2020
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Blog Post

Big data versus COVID-19: opportunities and privacy challenges

All available resources need to be brought to bear on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. To what extent can digital technology help? What risks are there in using big data to combat COVID-19, and what policies can mitigate any limitations that these risks impose?

By: J. Scott Marcus Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: March 23, 2020
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Opinion

Europe may be the world’s AI referee, but referees don’t win

The EU needs to invest in homegrown technology.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: February 19, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

Can hybrid threats disrupt the financial system?

From cashless payments to digital banking, finance has become intangible and global. But, while speed and convenience have made our international transactions easier, have we become more vulnerable? How can the EU respond to the increased risk of hybrid threats? This week, Nicholas Barrett is joined by Jukka Savolainen, Director of Community of Interest “Vulnerabilities and Resilience” at the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, and Maria Demertzis, to discuss the risks that hybrid threats pose to the financial system.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: February 17, 2020
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Podcast

Podcast

The EU's plan to catch up on artificial intelligence

While the US and China have been setting the pace when it comes to Artificial Intelligence, the European Union seems to be lagging behind. What are the Commission's plans to finally catch up? Will AI increase the gap between big and small companies? This week, Nicholas Barrett is joined by Julia Anderson and Guntram Wolff to discuss the EU's plan for AI.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: February 14, 2020
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