The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending October 8, 2021, closed at 5,400.76 for the 25 companies in the R&D World Index. The Index was up 1.75% (or 92.64 basis points) from the week ending October 1, 2021. The stock of 16 R&D World Index members gained value from 0.10% (Volkswagen AG) to 12.01% (Alibaba). The stock of 9 R&D World Index members lost value from -0.07% (IBM) to -3.78% (Facebook and Bristol-Myers Squibb).
There were several news items last week concerning RDW Index member General Motors’ R&D efforts. On October 5, GM said it was investing “hundreds of millions of dollars” in a new battery R&D center on the campus of its technical center in Warren, Mich., a northern suburb of Detroit. Called the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center, the 300,000-ft2 facility is scheduled to be completed in mid-2022. It is planned to accelerate development of lithium-metal, silicon and solid-state batteries, along with the production methods which can be applied to GM’s battery cell manufacturing plants. GM has a joint venture with LG Energy Solution, Ultium Cells through which it plans to build four battery cell manufacturing plants in Lordstown, Ohio, Spring Hill, Tenn., and two other unannounced locations. GM sees hundreds of R&D and manufacturing engineers working in the Wallace plant. GM also announced last week that it plans to double its annual revenue to $280 billion by 2030, in large part as a result of its extensive electrification plans. Analysts were quick to note that GM’s valuation of $79 billion is still only a tenth that of Tesla’s. Earlier this year, GM’s cross-town rival Ford Motor Company also said it was building a $100 million, 270,000 ft2 battery R&D center in nearby Romulus, Mich.
RDW Index member Microsoft announced last week that it plans to open five additional sites in Israel and more than double its existing 2,000-person R&D workforce in the country over the next four years. Microsoft currently operates development centers in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Nazareth and Herzliya, Israel. The new R&D sites will expand its facilities in Tel Aviv and Herzliya with new sites in Beersheba, Jerusalem and a fifth unnamed site. Earlier this year, Google announced a new chip development center in Israel and Nvidia said it was adding 600 engineers to its local R&D activities.
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced last week that it was investing $1 million in its support of R&D programs to create open-source first-responder robots. Part of that investment will support R&D at the University of Michigan who is testing Digit, a bipedal robot which could partner with humans in fires and disaster areas. Digit is expected to navigate in real-time without needing a preexisting terrain map. The Michigan researchers want to enable robots to go into areas too dangerous for humans, including collapsed buildings.
Boeing, Chicago, and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) announced last week the opening of a new R&D facility in Westway Park, Renfrew in Scotland’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District. Boeing is expected to create a $13 million R&D program for the NMIS in collaboration with the University of Strathcylde’s Advanced Forming Research Center. The new NMIS headquarters scheduled to open in 2022 will be adjacent to the Boeing R&D facility.
In response to extensive negative media reports and congressional hearings concerning consumer harms from its platforms, RDW Index member Facebook has slowed the rollout of its new products (and its R&D). Facebook executives have put a hold on new and existing products while a large company group are involved in “reputational reviews” to ensure that its products don’t adversely affect children.
Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based biotech Amgen last week announced it had formed a strategic R&D collaboration with Neumora Therapeutics, Watertown, Mass., to advance neuroscience, development and commercialization. The companies will apply Neumora’s precision neuroscience platform to insights generated by Amgen’s deCODE genetics and human data research capabilities with the aim being to discover insights into brain diseases, including schizophrenia and amyotrophic lateral scierosis (ALS).
Sweden’s Northvolt announced last week a $750 million expansion to its R&D center in Vasteras, Sweden. Norhtvolt plans to bring together R&D, battery cell design, module and manufacturing process development and battery recycling all into one site to create a fully integrated ecosystem approach to the battery industry. The new site will also benefit Northvolt Systems to design and manufacture solutions for the industrial energy storage system market. The company also said it expects to build at least two more electric battery gigafactories in Europe by 2030.
Artificial intelligence (AI) startup Domino Data Lab, San Francisco, announced last week that it had raised $100 million in new funding to develop tools that help data scientists build and deploy AI applications. Private equity firm Great Hill Partners, Nvidia, Sequoia Capital and others had already invested $228 million in Domino Data Lab. The new funding will be used to scale its sales organization and build out its machine learning platform’s features and functions.
San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm announced last week that it had purchased Sweden’s autonomous driving company Veoneer in a $4.5 billion takeover. The sale would result in Qualcomm’s acquisition of Veoneer’s Arriver sensor and driving software platform, which Qualcomm (with Veoneer) has been looking to bring to market by 2024.
RDW Index member Johnson & Johnson last week submitted for review and approval a booster dose for its COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA could decide on the booster shot (to the previously approved single dose J&J vaccine) within weeks. Pfizer’s booster shot was authorized in September and a submitted booster shot for the also-approved Moderna vaccine is expected within the next few weeks.
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 2019 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 spent 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.