The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending March 24, 2023, closed at 2,473.04 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was up 2.34% (or 56.60 basis points). Twenty-three of the 25 RDWI members gained value last week from 0.18% (Johnson & Johnson) to 10.20% (Sanofi SA). Two of the 25 RDWI members lost value last week from -1.29% (Volkswagen AG) to -1.51% (Intel).
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alexandria, Virginia, announced last week that it had invested $21 million through a tripartite R&D partnership between the U.S., the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland marking the largest number of awards through the partnership. In this investment, 12 awards to 27 research institutions will receive funding in areas such as wearable health diagnostics, robotics, 5G communications, and quantum networks, among others. Representing the U.S., research institutions include MIT, Harvard Medical School, University of Chicago, University of Texas at Austin, Virginia Poly, and others.
RDW Index member Apple, Cupertino, California, reported last week that it is putting cost-cutting measures in place as it looks to avoid the type of broader layoffs seen in other large technical organizations over the past six months (for example, Google, Amazon, and Meta Platforms). This includes ways to better allocate its R&D spending to focus on more critical projects. This will include the delaying of consumer products like the HomePod, delaying some employee bonuses, cracking down on travel, scrutinizing remote work guidelines, and others. CEO Tim Cook said layoffs are “a last resort kind of thing but can never be ruled out completely.”
Toshiba Corp., Tokyo, last week said it agreed to take the company private in a $15 billion deal. The buyout is to be led by Japan Industrial Partners Inc., Tokyo, and would include 17 domestic companies and six banks. In its search to survive, Toshiba has sold many of its businesses, including laptop computers, televisions, and medical equipment. Its remaining units include energy systems, batteries, and air conditioners, and a share of its memory chip business now called Kioxia Holdings. A special committee will now be formed to decide whether to recommend to the shareholders to accept the buyout, which is expected to begin in late July.
RDW Index member Google/Alphabet, Mountain View, California, opened public access to its new computer program, Bard, a competitor to Microsoft’s popular artificial intelligence (AI) tool ChatGPT which was released in November 2022. After years of development, Google will expand access to Bard to users in the U.S. and U.K. Bard is designed to respond to written prompts using information sourced from websites and can answer follow-up questions in a conversational manner. OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT introduced a new version of its AI technology, last week. This version, GPT-4 will be used to power Microsoft’s search engine Bing.
Electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc., Irvine, California, announced last week that it was relocating parts of its Irvine manufacturing engineering team to its Normal, Illinois, factory as a part of a reorganization aimed at speeding up production. During the pandemic, Rivian hired engineers wherever it could find them, which resulted in employees scattered across the U.S. This latest action is an attempt by the company to more centralize their workforce. Rivian employs about 14,000 workers.
RDW Index member General Motors, Detroit, noted last week that they’ve added power-grid security to their list of software-based risk monitoring. They’re moving from just being a vehicle manufacturer to also being an infrastructure provider which creates new cyber risks. Department of Energy researchers have found that hackers can use vulnerable security at remote charging stations to skim credit card details and even hijack entire charging networks.
The inflation rate in the U.K. increased to 10.4% in February from 10.1% in January, according to the Office for National Statistics. While this increase was unexpected, economists still expect the inflation rate to decline sharply over the next several months, as the country’s overall economic picture improves. Price increases are expected to decline in April as energy costs fall (April 2022 saw large energy cost increases) and the final inflation rate at the end of 2023 is expected to be 2.9%.
Two security researchers from Claroty Ltd., New York City, responded last week that Microsoft’s ChatGPT AI software helped them win the Zero Day Initiative’s hack-a-thon in Miami in February —they won more than $123,000 in the event. The approach taken by these researchers reveals how a determined hacker can employ an AI bot. Generative AI algorithm that creates realistic text can supplement hackers’ know-how. ChatGPT’s developer, OpenAI, and other generative AI bots add controls and filters to prevent abuse.
Cloud security company Menlo Security, Menlo Park, California, announced last week that it has opened a Center of Excellence in Bengaluru, India. About 10% of the company’s employees are now based in Bengaluru. The company plans to recruit new engineers to supplement the Indian office and create new security products for global distribution.
The European Commission (EC), Brussels, Belgium, last week rolled out proposals aimed at forcing companies to back up their environmental and sustainability claims with scientific data on their consumer products. The new rules target eco-friendly, and often misleading, labeling. The proposals are part of a wider European Union (EU) effort aimed at making it easier for consumers to choose environmentally sustainable products.
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 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