Stephan Emmerth

Stephan Emmerth

PhD | Director Therapeutic Innovation and BaseLaunch

Tel. +41 61 295 50 17

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Research (Img:

Research (Img:


Basel pharmaceuticals lead the way in research

The two Basel-based pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis are the two Swiss companies with the highest spending on R&D. They are also among the top 10 worldwide.

Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting division, published its list of companies with the highest R&D spending. U.S. technology companies topped the list with Amazon coming in first place ($16.1 billion in 2017), followed by Alphabet ($13.9 billion) and Intel ($12.7 billion).

Switzerland’s two highest ranked companies, Roche and Novartis, also ranked strongly internationally: Roche came in seventh place with $11.4 billion, followed by Novartis in tenth with $9.6 billion. The third highest ranked Swiss company was Nestlé, which came in 80th. Three other pharmaceutical companies, all from the U.S., made it into the top 15: Merck ($10.1 billion/8th place), Johnson & Johnson ($9.1 billion /12th) and Pfizer ($7.9 billion/14th).

Strategy& predicts that pharmaceutical companies will soon surpass technology companies in R&D research internationally.

“The healthcare sector will overtake the top spenders in R&D in the coming years: R&D spending rose by 5.9 per cent in just one year. This will help give Swiss companies fresh impetus for their 2018 R&D budgets,” said Alex Koster, managing director of Strategy& in Switzerland. 

Roche and Novartis are also increasing their research intensity this year – i.e. the share of R&D expenditures in total sales – from 19.9 per cent to 21.9 per cent for Roche, and from 19.2 per cent to 19.4 per cent for Novartis.

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