The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending March 12, 2021 closed at 4,446.93 for the 25 companies in the R&D World Index. The Index was down -0.27% (or 12.20 basis points) from the week ending March 5, 2021. The stock of 21 R&D World Index members gained value from 0.14% (Novartis) to 10.25% (General Motors). The stock of four R&D World Index members lost value from -0.32% (Apple) to -4.02% (Oracle).
RDWI-member Apple last week announced that it planned to invest more than $1.2 billion in Munich, Germany, to open Europe’s largest research facility (30,000-sq-m) on mobile wireless semiconductor devices and associated software. Apple stated that it would make its new research site, scheduled to open in 2022, its European Silicon Design Centre creating hundreds of new jobs for 5G and associated wireless technologies. The site will be LEED Gold certified when it opens and run entirely on 100% renewable energy. Apple has had a technology base in Munich since 1981, with nearly 1,500 engineers from 40 countries working in power management design, application processors and wireless technologies. Apple opened its Bavarian Design Center in 2015, which has grown to more than 350 engineers. Apple has more than 4,000 employees throughout Germany. Apple also has a site in Linz, Austria, focused on the development of new radio technologies.
GE Renewable Energy announced last week that it will create up to 750 new jobs in northeast England with a new factory to design and fabricate hundreds of giant wind turbine blades for placement in the North Sea. The new facility, located in Teesside, is scheduled to begin production in 2023. The UK government simultaneously confirmed plans to invest more than $130 million to create two dedicated offshore wind turbine ports in Teesside and on the Humber estuary on the UK’s northeast coast. The UK plans to quadruple offshore wind turbine capacity to 40 GW by 2030 with Teesside and Humber becoming two of eight new freeports (low tariff business zones for stimulating post-Brexit investments. The new GE-supplied turbines are expected to supply up to 5% of the UK’s electricity demand when fully installed by 2026.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced last week the beginning of design and construction of a $75 million Grid Storage Launchpad (GSL) located at the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash. The completed facility will include 30 research labs, some of which will be testing chambers capable of assessing prototypes and new grid energy storage technologies under real-world grid operating conditions. Construction is expected to begin in late-2021 and be completed and operational by 2025. The GSL is expected to speed up the development of long-duration low-cost batteries for grid storage systems.
The UK-based technology and product design company Cambridge Design Partnership announced last week that it has opened an R&D center in Raleigh, N.C., and they are hiring. The newly refurbished facility includes cutting-edge laboratories, a design studio, user observation rooms and a pilot manufacturing space allowing the company to deliver new innovations in its U.S. headquarters, in close proximity to the vast R&D resources of the Research Triangle Park area.
South Korea-based LG Energy Systems announced last week that it will invest more than $4.5 billion in the creation of two battery production plants in the U.S. One of those plants will be in partnership with General Motors and will be close to GM’s Lordstown, Ohio, electric vehicle assembly plant. The second plant may also be in the support of Tesla Motors’ upcoming “Biscuit Tin” battery cell design. LG currently only supplies batteries for Tesla vehicles for sale in China, while Panasonic supplies batteries for U.S.-spec vehicles.
Sweden’s battery manufacturers Northvolt AB last week acquired U.S. startup Cuberg, Emeryville, Calif., thereby gaining high-energy density technology which could boost the range of its current EV batteries by up to 70%. Cuberg was supported by Boeing’s HorizonX venture capital arm. The Cuberg technology was initially developed at Stanford University. Northvolt is building a large battery factory in northern Sweden, a second plan with Volkswagen in Germany and planning a third plant to be built in Germany. SVolt, which has developed a cobalt-free battery design is also building a production plant in western Germany.
The European Union last week approved RDWI-member Johnson & Johnson’s on-shot COVID-19 vaccine. EU authorities immediately authorized its use with distribution expected to begin in the second quarter of 2021. The EU’s approval follows the U.S. FDA’s approval in late-February. Long-time J&J competitor Merck & Co. is helping to produce the J&J vaccine. With death rates escalating, much of Europe, including Germany, is still in a lockdown status.
In a collaboration, Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline have developed a monoclonal antibody drug for the COVID-19 virus which has seen 85% efficacy in clinical trials. The companies are immediately asking regulators in the U.S. and other countries to authorize the therapy. In another research program, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck & Co. have developed an antiviral drug that significantly reduces the COVID-19 virus in subjects after a five-day treatment. Further study of this oral drug is underway.
The price of the primary EV battery material, metal lithium, has jumped 68% since the beginning of the year, following several years of depressed prices due to a glut of the material in the market. The whole dynamic for the lithium market has now completely changed according to materials analysts. The supply and demand balance for lithium fell into a deficit in 2020 for the first time in years. The other primary battery material, cobalt, also has suffered recently with stories of child-labor mining issues and hazardous working conditions at its primary mining location, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Africa.
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.