The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending December 8, 2023, closed at 3,101.42 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was up 0.68% (or 21.05 basis points). Thirteen RDWI members gained value last week from 0.28% (Merck & Co.) to 4.77% (Roche Holdings AG). Twelve RDWI members lost value last week from -0.07% (Microsoft) to -3.03% (Oracle).
ASM International, Almere, Netherlands, announced last week that it plans to invest $324 million over five years to expand its R&D efforts in Scottsdale, Arizona. This investment is set to substantially expand the company’s R&D activities on the site. It will more than double the size of their current facility in Phoenix and will also house several corporate functions including supply chain, manufacturing engineering, a Global Training Center, and the Global Software Team. ASM is the largest seller of atomic layer deposition tools which are used to form ultra-thin layers of materials on silicon wafers.
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alexandria, Virginia, issued the results of its Higher Education R&D (HERD) Survey for the Fiscal Year 2022 last week. The FY2022 total spending of $97.8 billion represents an increase of more than $8 billion over FY2021, making it the largest annual growth on record as measured in current dollars. Funding from federal sources accounted for $4.9 billion of the total increase. As it has for decades, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, headed the list of R&D spending in academic institutions with $3.42 billion of total R&D of which more than $2 billion goes to its Applied Physics Laboratory. Twenty-nine U.S. universities surpassed the one-billion-dollar R&D spending. The full report is available free for download at NSF.gov.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Silver Spring, Maryland, announced last week that it had approved the first medicine employing Crispr technology, Crispr (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) is a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms such as bacteria. The FDA approval was for Casgevy which was developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Boston, and Crispr Therapeutics, Basel, Switzerland. The drug is used for the treatment of sickle-cell anemia.
China’s largest electric vehicle (EV) maker, BYD, Shenzhen, China, was reported last week to be developing a large factory in Rayong, Thailand, which is expected to become the country’s largest car plant. Nissan, Great Wall Motor, and other Chinese and Japanese automakers already have plants in the Rayong area which is attractive due to its free-trade pacts and status as an export hub. Thailand is recognized as Asia’s Detroit due to the automaking infrastructure that has been established for many decades. The country also has strong growth in EV registrations.
EV maker, Lucid Motors, Newark, California, last week announced that it is developing a new class of EVs with compact, faster-charging batteries. With fewer batteries, the EVs will be more affordable. The high cost of EVs is currently limiting their full-scale acceptance in the marketplace. While Lucid makes EVs with long range, the company feels that an EV with only 150 miles of range and high efficiency could have a large consumer appeal, especially in an environment where a mature, robust, and reliable infrastructure is available such as it might become in the U.S in the not-too-distant future.
It was reported last week that RDW Index member Apple, Cupertino, California, expects to build more than 50 million iPhones in India annually within the next two to three years. Additional tens of millions of cell phones are planned to be added after that. If that occurs, India will account for about a quarter of iPhone production by 2030 with China still accounting for the remaining 75%. The first phase of Apple-supplier Foxconn’s plant is under construction in the southern Indian state of Karnataka and is expected to start operating in April 2024. This plant expects to make 20 million cell phones annually within the next two to three years. An additional Foxconn mega plant is being designed. New lower-end iPhones are also expected to be manufactured in India by 2025.
RDW Index member Google/Alphabet, Mountain View, California, announced last week that it has developed a new AI system that is more powerful than any currently on the market including OpenAI’s ChatGPT systems. The AI algorithm won’t be available until early 2024, which Google cited a need for more extensive safety testing beyond what has been done already in 2023. The software, code-named Gemini, will present a litmus test for Google’s technology following a push to move faster in developing and releasing AI products. Google wanted outside customers to test the most advanced version of Gemini before releasing it widely.
RDW Index member Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook), Menlo Park, California, announced last week that it will start fully encrypting messages on its products by default preventing illegal activities by child predators and other criminals. The company will begin automatically shifting Facebook users to end-to-end encryption for their messages with the change being rolled out over weeks. Direct messages on Instagram also will shift to such encryption by default somewhat later, likely in early 2024. Meta already runs WhatsApp, the world’s largest encrypted platform.
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) that 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