The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending June 11, 2021 closed at 5,070.65 for the 25 companies in the R&D World Index. The Index was up 1.56% (or 78.08 basis points) from the week ending June 4, 2021. The stock of 18 R&D World Index members gained value from 0.01% (Oracle) to 10.92% (Eli Lilly & Co.). The stock of seven R&D World Index members lost value from -0.18% (Honda) to -4.32% (Ford Motor Co.).
Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar announced last week that it will invest $680 million to build a 1.8-mil ft2 solar panel manufacturing facility near Akron, Ohio. Added to the company’s manufacturing plants in Malaysia and Vietnam, the company will produce more than 3 GW of photovoltaic (PV) power annually. The Ohio plant is expected to begin operating in the first half of 2023 to produce enhanced thin-film PV modules for large-scale desert installations. First Solar employs more than 5,000 people globally and invested more than $70 million in R&D in 2019.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first new Alzheimer’s drug in nearly two decades last week. The drug, Aduhelm, produced by Biogen, Cambridge, Mass., is an antibody immune agent that attaches to amyloid plaques in the brain and clears them, thereby slowing the amyloid degenerative process known as Alzheimer’s. The FDA granted Aduhelm an accelerated approval which requires Biogen to conduct a post-approval study to confirm the drug’s benefit. Biogen’s clinical trials of Aduhelm revealed a reduction in the amyloid plaques. The FDA last approved an Alzheimer’s drug in 2003 which reduced symptoms temporarily but did not change the underlying course of the disease. Biogen priced Aduhelm at $56,000 annually per patient, a cost higher than analysts expected. Biogen invested nearly $4 billion in R&D in 2020, increasing $1.7 billion over its investment in 2019.
The Biden administration announced last week the formation of the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Resource Task Force. The Task Force consists of 10 AI experts who will create a plan for giving AI researchers more access to data, computational resources and other tools. The task force includes DefinedCrowd CEO Daniela Braga, Google Cloud’s Andrew Moore and Stanford University’s Fei-Fei Li. Lynne Parker, assistant director of AI for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) will co-chair the effort with the National Science Foundation’s senior advisor Erwin Gianchandani. Congress mandated the creation of the Task Force in its National AI Initiative of 2020. The group will set up the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) which is designed for all scientific disciplines.
Prior to the start of the G7 economic summit last week, the U.S. and the UK agreed to form a partnership over the next two years for developing emerging technologies including AI, quantum computers and batteries, under the revised Atlantic Charter signed by President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The partnership expects to increase funding for R&D in climate change, cancer, future disease outbreaks and supply chain security. Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology plan to coordinate their policies more closely. The revised 80-year old Atlantic Charter clearly specifies that the U.S. and the UK will manage potential abuses of emerging technologies through international institutions and laws. This will include a “robust” data access agreement between the two countries to support investigations into cyberattacks and terrorism.
The U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan technology bill, the U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act (USICA) last week. The bill now moves into the House of Representatives this week before going to the President for a final signature and approval. Senate majority leader Senator Chuck Schumer has said he is confident that they can get a “really good product” to the president. In its current form, the Senate bill’s two big ticket items provide $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing and $195 billion to be spent on R&D. The House Science committee is preparing its version for a vote on June 15, 2021.
A conflict is brewing between President Biden’s plans for developing renewable energy resources and the National Wildlife Federation. Biden is looking to restore criminal penalties for the accidental killing of migratory birds by large wind turbines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that up to 500,000 birds are killed annually through accidental collisions. The U.S. Department of Energy’s wind power target is expected to push these deaths to 1.4 million annually. Fines were imposed by former President Trump. Wind farm developers have been investing R&D monies on compliance plans for the previous regulations. The Biden administration is in the process of developing new rules and following public commentary, it expects to finalize its policy before the end of 2021.
China’s government is slowing its previously stated pledge to reduce carbon emissions. Economic growth currently is taking priority over meeting climate changing targets, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. China’s National Development and Reform Commission appears to have more political power currently than China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, which previously established policies. The current policy involves about a third of the carbon emitters (power companies) which were initially identified in October 2020.
The Biden administration also is looking to roll out new clean-water regulations which were eased during the Trump administration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated last week that it plans to start a regulatory process along with the U.S. Department of Justice to revise rules that reduced clean-water protections. The process, however, is confusing to businesses and developers as to what their future environmental requirements will entail.
The U.S. Department of Labor released a report last week stating that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 5% in May 2021 over the level in May 2020, the largest increase in 13 years. Economists note that the inflation rate was affected by the COVID-19’s economic effects in early 2020. They state that data in August 2021 should be more reflective on the actual economic status. Federal Reserve officials, however, are beginning to be concerned in that should the inflation rate continue to rise, they have few tools left to combat these effects to ensure continued economic growth. The Fed may choose to slowly instill small rate changes in anticipation of those events.
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.