The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending November 26, 2021, closed at 5,479.41 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was down -3.48% (or -197.51 basis points) from the week ending November 19, 2021. The stock of four RDWI members gained value from 0.23% (AbbVie) to 6.30% (Pfizer). The stock of 21 RDWI members lost value from -0.13% (Eli Lilly & Co.) to -6.91% (Daimler AG).
RDW Index member AstraZeneca, Cambridge, U.K., announced the opening last week of its new R&D center, called The Discovery Centre, in Cambridge. The company initially planned to open their new R&D center in 2016 and for it to cost about $440 million to complete. However, the move from its original site in semirural Adderley Park to the more technologically upscale Cambridge site was plagued by “waves of delays”, increasing build complexities, inflation and a failed potential merger with Pfizer all of which increased the cost to $1.3 billion and the completion to 2021. The new facility houses 16 labs (19,000-m2 in size) with space for 2,200 researchers making it the U.K.’s largest science lab and AstraZeneca’s largest single site investment. The Discovery Centre is now part of Europe’s largest biomedical cluster, close to Cambridge University, two hospitals and hundreds of R&D institutions and biotech firms. The site includes labs with advanced robotics, high-throughput screening systems and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
South Korea’s electronics firm Samsung Electronics, Suwon-si, announced last week that it plans to invest about $17 billion in a semiconductor manufacturing facility in Taylor, Texas (near Austin). The company said the facility would be its largest U.S. investment and will produce high-end chips for smartphones, AI and other applications. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 with production beginning in the second half of 2024. Samsung is the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer by revenue with an estimated R&D investment in 2020 of about $19.6 billion, which has been increasing at 6% to 8% per year over the past decade. Earlier this month, Texas Instruments, Dallas, announced that it was planning to invest up to $30 billion in chip-manufacturing facilities in Sherman, Texas (north of Dallas). Its construction would also start in 2022 with production beginning in 2025. Both site selection decisions included local incentives, infrastructures and the access to appropriate talent.
RDW Index member Merck & Co., Kenilworth, N.J., and its technology partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, Miami, revealed last week that their experimental COVID-19 pill was found to be less effective than the companies earlier stated. The drug, molnupiravir, is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The companies initially stated that the drug was 50% effective at reducing risk of hospitalization and death but was only 30% effective in a final analysis. The FDA stated that the drug testing revealed that no major safety concerns turned up in the late-stage testing. The U.K. regulatory agencies cleared this drug for use earlier in November.
Abbott Laboratories, Chicago, is reported to open a new R&D site in South Portland, Maine, following the signing of a long-term lease for a 11.4-acre site, which includes a 35,000 ft2 office building with 18,000 ft2 of lab space which will be added by Abbott. The company is expected to employ about 90 people at the site with half of the total space used for lab analysis of raw materials to be used in pre-market studies for new medical products.
Global telecommunications developer and manufacturer Ericsson, Kista, Sweden, announced last week that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Vonage Holdings, Holmdel, N.J., for about $6.2 billion. Vonage is a global provider of cloud-based communications. The merger allows Ericsson to expand its presence in the wireless enterprise and broaden its global offerings. Ericsson had 2020 R&D investments of about $4.4 billion. Vonage has an R&D center in Tel Aviv.
Samsung India, Noida, announced last week that it expects to hire more than 1,000 engineers from top institutions in India, such as the Indian Institute of Technology and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. The new hires are expected to work in AI, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, deep learning, networks and image processing. The company currently has about 10,000 engineers working at its three R&D centers in Bengaluru, Noida and Delhi. Samsung has been in India for nearly 30 years in both a manufacturing and an R&D presence. Its Indian presence is the largest concentration of engineers outside of Samsung’s South Korean headquarters.
BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany, has announced that it plans to reorganize its R&D activities in 2022. Their global R&D will be bundled into one central research unit based in their German headquarters. The company currently has about 3,500 researchers located at its headquarters, Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Shanghai sites. The company also plans to transfer about 1,800 researchers directly into its business units, which is expected to strengthen its customer focus of R&D. BASF invested about $2.5 billion in R&D activities in 2020.
The latest COVID-19 variant, called B.1.15 29, or Omicron, will take several weeks for researchers to study to determine its specific characteristics and the existing COVID-19 vaccines’ efficacy to this new variant. First seen in South Africa in early November, the virus is currently considered a variant of concern with several various mutations. Most vaccine suppliers are working on either variations of their existing vaccines or at least testing their vaccines’ efficacy to the omicron variant. The discovery of this new variant and its potential issues has caused great concern to government bodies and economic institutions because of its increased transmissibility.
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 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.