Building an R&D strategy for modern times

The age of the insular R&D organization is over. To serve as a company’s innovation engine, R&D strategy needs to be equipped for today’s fast-moving world.

The global investment in research and development (R&D) is staggering. In 2019 alone, organizations around the world spent $2.3 trillion on R&D—the equivalent of roughly 2 percent of global GDP—about half of which came from industry and the remainder from governments and academic institutions. What’s more, that annual investment has been growing at approximately 4 percent per year over the past decade.1

While the pharmaceutical sector garners much attention due to its high R&D spending as a percentage of revenues, a comparison based on industry profits shows that several industries, ranging from high tech to automotive to consumer, are putting more than 20 percent of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) back into innovation research (Exhibit 1).

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