Healthcare poised to become largest R&D-spending industry by 2020, study says

Healthcare research and development spending ranked below R&D spending in the computing and electronics industry in 2018, but healthcare is projected to become the largest R&D spending sector by 2020, according to new research from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The findings come from PwC's latest Global Innovation 1000 study, which ranks the 1,000 largest publicly listed R&D spenders worldwide, including healthcare, computing and electronics, software,  internet and auto.

The study found the 1,000 largest spenders have shelled out a record $782 billion toward R&D this year, an increase of 11.4 percent over last year. The computing and electronics, healthcare, auto, software and internet industries accounted for 76 percent of that spending.

PwC said revenue for the 1,000 largest spenders also increased by 11.4 percent, and innovation spending as a percentage of revenue remained at 4.5 percent.

For healthcare, R&D spending was $169.5 billion in 2018, up from $159 billion the year prior. For computing and electronics, R&D spending rose from $161.8 billion in 2017 to $175.7 billion  in 2018.

The study identified 88 companies as high-leverage innovators for 2017, meaning these companies have outperformed their industry financially for the previous five years, and at the same time spent less on R&D as a percentage of sales.

Twenty-three of those companies are in healthcare, including Mylan, the maker of EpiPen; Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and medical device company Medtronic. Other healthcare companies on the list include Fresenius Medical Care and Hologic.

PwC projects healthcare will surpass the computing and electronics industry in R&D spending by 2020.

Access the full study here.


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