US companies performed 18 percent of R&D outside the United States in 2013


Credit: NSF

U.S. companies spent $73 billion on research and development (R&D) performed outside the United States in 2013, according to a new report by the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

The total represented 18 percent of U.S. companies' total R&D performance. These same companies spent $323 billion on R&D performed within the United States in 2013.

Almost 50 percent of the foreign R&D performance by U.S. companies was in Europe, largely in the United Kingdom and Germany. The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 31 percent of foreign R&D, with India and China making up the largest share. Outside of Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, foreign R&D performance was highest in Canada, Israel and Brazil.

Four industries accounted for 52 percent of foreign R&D performance by U.S. companies:

  • Software publishing, which was concentrated in the United Kingdom, India, Israel and Canada.
  • Pharmaceuticals and medicines, which had higher concentrations of foreign R&D in Japan and Switzerland.
  • Semiconductor and other electronic components, which had high concentrations of foreign R&D in Singapore, Israel, India and China.
  • Automobiles, bodies, trailers and parts, which had a high concentration of foreign R&D in Germany.

U.S. companies with 500 or more domestic employees performed most foreign R&D.

On the basis of cost per R&D employee, U.S. companies spent 77 percent more on R&D performed domestically than on R&D performed outside the United States.

Differences in spending per R&D employee between domestic and foreign R&D performance were most pronounced in the information and communications technologies industries, which includes manufacturing of computer and electronics products, software publishing and computer systems design.


For more information, including detailed breakdowns of locations, industries and company size, read the full report.

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Stanley Dambroski
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