The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending April 21, 2023, closed at 2,605.53 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was down -0.70% (or 18.44 basis points). Eight of the 25 RDWI members gained value last week from 0.05% (Merck & Co.) to 2.80% (Eli Lilly & Co.). Seventeen of the 25 RDWI members lost value last week from -0.12% (Apple) to -6.94% (Cisco).
Polestar, Gothenburg, Sweden, the electric vehicle (EV) maker owned by Geely, Zhejiang, China, announced last week that it will expand its R&D operations in Europe by taking over part of Saab’s former car plant in Trollhattan, Sweden. The new R&D center will primarily focus on powertrain development for the Polestar 5 and 6 models. The facility will be used for testing powertrains, electric motors, and batteries for the Polestar vehicles. The company expects to launch the Polestar 5 in 2025.
RDW Index member Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg, Germany, announced last week that it will open a research, development, and procurement hub for vehicle electrification and automation in China in 2024. The company’s $1.1 billion investment will speed up development times for new products and technologies related to electrification and automation by about 30% by procuring materials closer to where R&D occurs. The hub will be in the southern China city of Hefei and tailored to Chinese regulations for EVs targeted at the Chinese market.
The U.S. Space Force, the Pentagon, Virginia, announced last week that it is launching five Strategic Technology Institutes for critical space technologies. The virtual institutes are expected to encourage U.S. universities and research entities to work together and create a network. The institutes will be focused on space domain awareness beyond geosynchronous orbit, advanced power propulsion systems, advanced remote sensing, data trust and cybersecurity, and in-space servicing and manufacturing.
RDW Index member Google, Mountain View, California, announced last week that it has merged its two main artificial intelligence (AI) research units. The new unit, Google DeepMind will combine the existing Brain and DeepMind research groups into one team. Combining all of Google’s talent into one focused team, backed by Google’s computational resources is expected to accelerate Google’s AI progress. The merger is expected to mark a dramatic shift in the way Google’s AI researchers work together. Google fell behind competitors’ public release of AI technologies citing the need to test their tools for accuracy and signs of bias. Google recently opened limited developer access to its new AI algorithm system, Pathways Language Model (PaLM).
Finland last week started regular electricity output at Europe’s largest nuclear reactor, Olkiluoto 3. The long-delayed project (initially set to open in 2009) is the first new nuclear-power facility to open in Europe in 16 years. The new reactor joins two existing reactors on Olkiluoto Island off Finland’s west coast. The new reactor is expected to eventually supply about a third of the country’s electricity. Russia suspended electricity and natural gas supplies to Finland in 2022.
RDW Index member, Apple, Cupertino, California, opened its first retail stores in India last week. Fueling Apple’s recent push into India is its desire to diversify its manufacturing and supply chain away from China to other countries such as India and Vietnam. Apple has encountered issues in the past with manufacturing in India, which doesn’t have the same level of top-down government coordination that is found in China. Apple’s main manufacturing partner, Foxconn Technology Group, Taipei, Taiwan, also is considering a major production expansion away from China and into Chennai, India.
RDW Index member, Volkswagen AG, also announced last week that it will invest more than $5 billion in a battery cell plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. When completed, the plant will be the largest manufacturing plant in Canada. The plant will be operated by VW’s battery unit PowerCo and supply VW’s U.S. factories with battery cells. Construction of the plant will begin in 2024 with battery production starting in 2027.
Commercial airframe developer/manufacturer Airbus, Leiden, the Netherlands, announced last week that it has opened a research center near Shanghai, China. The center will explore manufacturing innovations, hydrogen infrastructures, cabin experience, and new technologies. The focus will be to develop alternate aviation energy sources, such as hydrogen. Airbus stated that their research center will take advantage of the highly skilled aviation and hydrogen knowledge already established in the Yangtze River Delta region.
The government of India last week announced a seed fund of $730 million for the National Quantum Mission for 2023/24 through 2030/31. This investment is considered modest compared to other similar investments (China $15.3 billion, the EU $7.2 billion, and the U.S. $1.2 billion). India only has a basic quantum computer (Qsim) that allows researchers to simulate quantum computations.
European lawmakers last week noted that they want to give regulators new powers to govern the development of AI technologies like those in the recently viral ChatGPT products. According to the lawmakers, the rapid acceptance of the ChatGPT systems requires a new set of rules tailored to powerful, general-purpose AI tools Their AI Act is expected to point this development in directions that are human-centric, safe, and trustworthy.
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) which 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