The Global Leaders in R&D Spending, by Country and Company

Visual Capitalist |

Chart: The Global Leaders in R&D Spending, by Country and Company

Chart: The Global Leaders in R&D Spending

The Countries That Put the Most into R&D

Given a choice of being the disruptor or the disrupted, many would prefer to choose the former.

But it’s not as easy as just flipping a switch and subsequently reaping the benefits of a forward-looking vision, new product categories, and forthcoming patents. Instead, an organization has to proactively acquire this innovation and intellectual capital from somewhere.



For many established companies, there is no other choice but to buy innovative startups through M&A to get their innovation fix, though this typically comes at a marked up price. On the flipside, especially for companies in tech, auto, and pharmaceutical spaces, innovation likely has to be in the DNA of the company culture, managerial decisions, and any new talent hired.

Global Leaders in R&D Spending

For those companies that aim to innovate internally, money needs to go into the research and development (R&D) line of their income statement.

Today’s chart looks at the countries that put the most into R&D (in % of GDP terms, and absolute $ terms), as well as the companies that have spent the most on R&D in the last 12 months trailing.

It’s also worth noting that money put into R&D is like any other investment – the money can be used wisely or simply squandered into initiatives that don’t pay off. Despite this, R&D spending is a loose approximation for global innovation.

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