The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending May 14, 2021 closed at 4,792.60 for the 25 companies in the R&D World Index. The Index was down 2.00% (or -97.77 basis points) from the week ending May 7, 2021. The stock of 12 R&D World Index members gained value from 0.17% (Ford Motor Co.) to 2.60% (Astra Zeneca PLC). The stock of 12 R&D World Index members lost value from -0.15% (Merck & Co.) to -7.01% (Alibaba). Roche Holdings AG stock (42.13) was unchanged for the week.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported a consumer-price index (CPI) of 4.2% for April 2021 last week, which was up from 2.6% for the calendar year ending in March 2021. The CPI is actually artificially depressed as many consumer prices have been slashed to promote sales during the pandemic. The producer price index (PPI) rose 6.2%, which was the largest annual increase since the Labor Department began recording PPI in November 2010. The PPI is used for calculating most R&D spending data. Inflation and the nominal interest rates greatly influence R&D budgeting and growth. The inflation data increases reported for April last week caused a drop in stock averages, their largest in the past seven months. The Federal Reserve has said it will let inflation run above its 2% target “for some time” before it adjusts the current near-zero interest rates. The Fed said the current inflation uptick is temporary and it would need to see more data before changing its monetary policy. China also reported last week that it’s CPI rose 0.9% in April and its PPI rose 6.8% in April, the largest Chinese PPI increase since October 2017. U.S. import prices also rose to their highest level in March 2021 since December 2018. International economists say they are concerned about the continuing rise in commodities prices which are expected to rise through 2Q 2021. The global shortage in semiconductor chips is also noted as contributing to the rise in PPI. The shortage is forecast to continue beyond Q3 2021.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) approved new growers of research marijuana last week for the first time in more than 50 years. This means that researchers will be able to study marijuana from more than just that supplied by a farm at the University of Mississippi, which the government approved in 1968 as the only legal source of marijuana which could be used for medical research. Biopharmaceutical Research Co., Monterey, Calif., will now also be allowed to conduct studies, along with other potential licensees.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), California, reported last week that an LBNL x-ray instrument with machine learning capabilities was used to speed up the learning curve about a process that shortens the life of fast-charging lithium batteries. The study represents the first time that scientific machine learning was applied to battery cycling. Researchers at the Toyota Research Institute also supported the study through its Accelerated Materials Design and Discovery program.
Tel Aviv, Israel-based UBQ Materials last week announced a partnership with Israel’s 3D printing company Plastics App to develop tailor-made applications for recycled polymers and plastics. UBQ developed technologies for turning landfill-destined household waste into thermoplastics, which has been adopted by McDonalds and Daimler, among others for use in various end products.
RDW Index member Alphabet/Google last week announced plans to double its team studying artificial intelligence (AI) ethics to 200 researchers. Google has been criticized in the past for AI-based research controversies and technical personnel defections. Health will be a major focus for Google’s expanded AI group, including the detection of abnormal heart rhythms by scanning fingertips on an Android-based cell phone.
Research announced last week at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University revealed that COVID-19 patients who have received oxygen therapy or have experienced a fever were shown to have reduced gray matter in the frontal-temporal network of the brain. Those patients with reduced gray matter volume had a higher level of disability among COVID-19 patients, even six months following hospital discharge. Gray matter abnormalities may underlie mood disorders, schizophrenia and reduced neural functioning.
The U.S.’s first large-scale offshore wind farm received its final federal approval last week. Vineyard Wind is a $2.8 billion project off the coast of Massachusetts and is expected to start construction within a year and be completed by 2023. The project will have up to 84 wind turbines (GE’s Haliade-X) located 12 miles off Nantucket and is expected to generate up to 800 MW. Vineyard Wind is the first of about 10 offshore projects awaiting permit reviews by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Vineyard Wind’s predecessor, Cape Wind, failed to be approved following years of local opposition, high costs and missed deadlines.
RDW Index member Toyota Motors stated last week that most of its vehicles will still run on gasoline a decade from now since fully electric vehicles will not have caught up technologically or in cost or in convenience. According to the company, slightly more than half of Toyota’s vehicles produced in 2030 for the North American market will be hybrid vehicles – gasoline and electric propulsion systems. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids will be easier for customers to buy, says company representatives. This strategy contrasts with that of other automakers. Honda says 40% of their production will be fully electric by 2030, with 100% fully electric production by 2040. RDW Index member Volkswagen has said it is building six large battery factories and will operate more than 18,000 public fast-charging stations in Europe by 2025. Volkswagen and Toyota are the top two automakers in the world. Volkswagen spends roughly $20 billion annually on R&D, while Toyota spends about half of that.
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.