The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending March 3, 2023, closed at 2,408.57 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was up 1.46% (or 34.76 basis points) from the week ending February 24, 2023. Sixteen of the 25 RDWI members gained value during the past week from 0.13% (Sanofi SA) to 11.79% (Volkswagen AG). Nine of the 25 RDWI members lost value last week from -0.72% (IBM) to -2.75% (Merck & Co.).
RDW Index member Astra Zeneca, Cambridge, United Kingdom (U.K.), announced last week that it was expanding its R&D center near Toronto, and creating a new Astra Zeneca Rare Disease Development Hub based on its Alexion product line. The expansion will add 500 new jobs and will help run Astra Zeneca’s clinical trials. The company currently has about 1,200 employees in Canada.
Novo Nordisk, Bagsvaerd, Denmark, announced last week that it plans to expand its R&D presence in the Boston area to create one of its largest R&D hubs outside of Denmark. The new hub will make use of its existing facilities in Lexington, Cambridge, and Watertown, Massachusetts, and will be the center of its U.S.-based R&D activities. The company will transfer its lab-based discovery work from Seattle to other locations in its global R&D network and close its R&D facility in Indianapolis. The move will eliminate 20 positions in Indianapolis and 80 in Seattle. Its Seattle site will continue to focus on digital therapy, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI). Its R&D site for manufacturing stem cells and stem cell-based medicines will continue to be based in Fremont, California.
It was revealed last week that RDW Index member Pfizer, New York City, is in talks to acquire biotech Seagen Inc., Bothell, Washington, for about $30 billion, according to analysts. The talks are in an early stage for the acquisition of Seagen’s promising class of targeted cancer therapies. 2022 acquisition talks between Seagen and Merck & Co. failed after which Seagen had a leadership change. Seagen’s research focuses on antibody-drug conjugates.
It was announced last week that New York had beat out London for the coveted listing of British semiconductor chip designer Arm Ltd., Cambridge, U.K. Analysts cited the deeper pools of capital in the U.S. with a more vibrant investor base willing to pay more for shares than in other markets as the main reasons for the decision. No decision on which exchange — NASDAQ or the NYSE — was made at this time.
Electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla, Austin, Texas, was mentioned last week by Mexico’s President that the company plans to build an EV plant in the northern Mexican industrial hub of Monterrey. Tesla has repeatedly said it needs about a dozen factories to meet its goal of selling 20 million EVs annually by 2030. The company already has plants in the U.S., China, and Germany, with a $775 million U.S. plant expansion underway in Austin. Germany’s BMW automaker is building an EV plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
An editorial in last week’s Wall Street Journal noted that the prices for metals used in the manufacture of EV batteries have fallen substantially over the past several months. Cobalt prices in February, for example, were down 61% from January 2022, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, London. Lithium carbonate, the primary element in EV batteries, has also fallen 21% since November 2022. Supply chain bottlenecks are easing faster than expected and the current supply of EV batteries could surpass the demand soon, further depressing EV battery costs.
The primary manufacturer of RDW Index member Apple, Cupertino, California, Foxconn Technology Group, Taipei, Taiwan, was noted last week as considering a major expansion of its manufacturing capabilities in India to diversify beyond China. Foxconn already manufactures Apple products near Chennai, in southern India. The company plans to boost production sites and personnel in India over the next two years. Apple has been pushing its suppliers to diversify beyond China. China production will not be eliminated according to Apple.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved last week a drug to treat a debilitating disease using data collected over the past several decades. The FDA approved Skyclarys from Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc., Plano, Texas, for treating a neurological disorder, Friedreich’s ataxia in adults and adolescents. Unlike conventional clinical trials used in other drug approvals, these approvals are based in part on rare natural history studies performed over a number of years.
RDW Index member Apple last week delayed its approval of an email-app update containing the AI feature in OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. Apple blocked the email app BlueMail due to concerns that the AI feature could show inappropriate content. The Apple reviewers wanted the age restriction for the app to be raised for users from four years to 17 years.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) last week reported that global carbon emissions rose less than expected in 2022. CO2 emissions increased by less than 1% to 321 million metric tons in 2022. Emissions slowed due to the increase in energy costs and availability brought about by the Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic, which shifted energy use away from oil, gas, and coal.
Smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp., Beijing, last week announced that it had set up a fund to invest in China’s semiconductor chip industry. Xiaomi and software and cloud company Kingsoft Corp. are investors in the $1.5 billion fund, which several government-backed investors also back. The fund is a reaction to the funding provided by the U.S. government to several semiconductor companies doing business in the U.S. These companies are restricted from providing high-performance devices to China.
R&D World’s R&D Index is a weekly stock market summary of the top international companies involved in R&D. The top 25 industrial R&D spenders in 2020 were selected based on the latest listings from Schonfeld & Associates’ June 2020 R&D Ratios & Budgets. These 25 companies include pharmaceutical (10 companies), automotive (6 companies), and ICT (9 companies) who invested a cumulative total of nearly 260 billion dollars in R&D in 2019, or approximately 10% of all the R&D spending in the world by government, industries, and academia combined, according to R&D World’s 2021 Global R&D Funding Forecast. The stock prices used in the R&D World Index are tabulated from NASDAQ, NYSE, and OTC common stock prices for the companies selected at the close of stock trading business on the Friday preceding the online publication of the R&D World Index