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Research and development (R&D) is a large global enterprise. The world invests a little over 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in R&D. This spending is hugely concentrated. Of the $2 trillion spent on global R&D, the top five (of over 180) countries — the US, China, Japan, Germany and South Korea — account for three-quarters. In-house spending by industry accounts for a little over two-thirds of all R&D investment, with the balance split 60:40 between higher education and government laboratories. Within industry, the top five industries — pharmaceuticals, automobiles, technology hardware, software and electronics — account for 73 per cent of all industrial R&D. And within those industries, it is highly concentrated in a few companies, with the top 20 companies accounting for 22 per cent of global industrial R&D (think about it, 20 firms spend over 20 per cent of what millions of firms do worldwide).
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