The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending February 5, 2021 closed at 4,518.71 for the 25 companies in the R&D World Index. The Index was up 8.04% (or 336.08 basis points) from the week ending January 29, 2021. The stock of 19 R&D World Index members gained value from 0.07% (Novartis) to 14.31% (Alphabet/Google). The stock of six R&D World Index members lost value from -0.83% (Bristol-Myers Squibb) to -2.98% (Eli Lilly & Co.).
In December 2020, RDWI-member Sanofi (and its development partner GlaxoSmithKline) announced that the Phase 2 clinical trial results for its COVID-19 vaccine did not meet their requirements and that vaccine R&D revisions would push its anticipated mid-2021 vaccine launch to late-2021. Following this announcement, Sanofi executives approached Pfizer and its partner BioNTech with an offer to help with their mRNA vaccine production who were struggling to scale up their production to 2 billion 2021 doses of approved vaccines (Pfizer has already stated that it will reduce vaccine shipments to Europe in February 2021). The first batches of the Sanofi-produced Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines will be produced at Sanofi’s site in Frankfurt, Germany, by August, 2021. Sanofi is continuing development of its own vaccine and is expected to start Phase 2b clinical trials in March 2021. The revised Sanofi vaccines will be compared to the original vaccines during the new clinical trials. Sanofi also has another COVID-19 vaccine in development with a partnership with Translate Bio, which has shown promise in preclinical trials. Gaithersburg, Md., -based Novavax also indicated last week that it has initiated the application process for authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. and other countries. Novavax is still in the midst of its Phase 3 clinical trials, which it expects to complete in Spring, 2021.
RDWI-member Johnson & Johnson submitted its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week for emergency use authorization. J&J stated that its vaccine had a 72% efficacy at preventing the disease and an 85% efficacy when looking at severe cases. J&J’s vaccine can be stored at higher refrigerated temperatures than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and for a longer period of time. Only one dose of the J&J vaccine is needed to treat patients, while two doses (about two weeks apart) are required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The FDA also has indicated last week that it is evaluating new R&D plans for quickly testing vaccines to ensure that existing vaccines are effective against the new COVID-19 variants appearing in the UK, South Africa and other locations. Existing protocols of full clinical trials of 30,000 or more patients are currently too-time consuming, according to the FDA.
RDWI-members General Motors and Ford Motor both announced last week that they will spend $27 billion and $29 billion, respectively over the next five years (through 2025) on electric vehicle (EV) autonomous development. Ford stated that part of its R&D investment for autonomous vehicles would include spending on Ford-owned Argo AI (artificial intelligence) for its 2022 launch of autonomous commercial services. Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic hit automotive R&D budgets in 2020 with a 13% reduction in spending, which is expected to continue into 2021, although less, according to an outlook report by the Society of Automotive Analysts released in January 2021. Increasing R&D budgets are expected to begin in 2022.
RDWI-member Toyota announced last week that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded Toyota more patents than any other automaker in 2020. Toyota received 2,819 patents in 2020, up 4% from 2019. The company says it has received more than 1,400 patents related to autonomous vehicle technology since 2003 and has invested more than $1 billion in R&D related to automated vehicles and robotics since 2017.
GM has already invested in EV battery technologies with its alliance with South Korea’s LG Chem in its Lordstown, Ohio, plant. Ford indicated last week that it also was looking at investing in battery development, stating that it “cannot afford” to face the same problems with future battery availability as it and other automakers are currently facing with semiconductor chip supplies. Ford also stated last week that it signed a long-term partnership with RDWI-member Alphabet/Google centered on “connected vehicles.”
RDWI-member Microsoft last week announced that it will hire an additional 100 researchers in Taiwan in 2021 to expand its R&D efforts in the country. The researchers are expected to focus on advanced AI technologies, such as computer vision and user intent. They will also work to enhance Azure, the company’s cloud computing service. Over the past several years, Microsoft’s R&D center has already formed technology collaborations with existing Taiwanese AI firms.
About the R&D World Index
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.