National Information Centre for European Research


Horizon Europe Programme in a World and European Context III.


In the Fall of 2023, Patsnap released the Global Innovation Report, which published a list of the 100 greatest global innovators leading the world's technological advancements, not only in terms of their own extensive technological capabilities, but also in terms of their impact on other businesses (both in their core industries and in others). This paper aims to build on previous reports of 26th June 2023 and 11th September 2023, in which we introduced readers to the scale of the EU Framework Programmes in the context of R&D spending in the world's largest industrial corporations.

Patsnap lists 24 European corporations – 16 from the European Union, 4 from the United Kingdom and 4 from Switzerland – in its list of the 100 greatest global innovators for 2023. Within the EU countries, 8 German corporations dominate, focusing on machinery and automotive (Bosch, Continental, Siemens, Volkswagen), pharmaceuticals (Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim) and chemicals (BASF, Merck). The representation of European corporations in this list is lower than in the United States and Japan. The United States has 35 corporations in this ranking, mostly in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries (e.g. Abbott, Abbvie, Boston Scientific, Gilead Sciences, Pfizer, etc.) and in the electronics and information technology industries (Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Oracle, etc.). In second place is Japan with 30 corporations, most of which are focused on the electronics and information technology industries (e.g. Canon, Fujifilm, Fujitsu, Kyocera, Olympus, Sony, etc.), the machinery and automotive industries (e.g. Denso, Hitachi, Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota) and the chemical industry (e.g. Nitto Denko, Shin-Etsu Chemical, Sumitomo Chemical). The People's Republic of China has 5 corporations (e.g. Huawei, Tencent, ZTE) and the Republic of Korea 3 (LG Chem, LG Electronics, Samsung).

The table below shows how the 24 European corporations (ranked among the 100 greatest global innovators) stand in the European Union's framework programmes – Horizon 2020 (H2020) in the period 2014-2020 and the current Horizon Europe (2021-2027; HE). The 24 European corporations together claimed a net EU contribution of €724 million in H2020. This corresponds to the amount claimed by the Polish participants (who claimed €746 million from the H2020 programme; H2020 participants from the Czech Republic claimed €509 million). Similarly, in the HE programme, 24 European corporations claim a net EU contribution of €329 million as of 19th December 2023. This is essentially the same amount as all Czech participants.




Some of the 24 European corporations mentioned are among the largest corporate beneficiaries of the Framework Programmes. For example, the German engineering group Siemens claimed net EU contribution €156 million from H2020. The French aircraft and defence systems group Safran claimed the same amount from H2020. Such a large net EU contribution in H2020 was claimed by some countries with lower research or innovation intensity (e.g. Croatia or Bulgaria). A similar net EU contribution applies to the current HE programme, where Safran claims the same amount as the Hungarian or Lithuanian participants and Siemens as the Latvian ones. On the other hand, it should be noted that the net EU contribution claimed by these 24 European corporations together represents just under 4% of the total support to business from both H2020 and HE programmes.

We saw, that the greatest European corporations are claiming amounts from the EU's R&D framework programmes that are in line with some smaller countries. If we link the European corporations listed in the 2023 Patsnap Global Innovation Report to the 2022 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, we can see, that within the overall corporate R&D budgets, revenues from the framework programmes represent only a fraction (e.g. 9 European corporations listed by Patsnap have annual R&D expenditures higher than the Czech Republic). In addition, among the European corporations ranked among the 100 greatest global innovators, there are also some that have participated in the EU Framework Programmes only marginally and fund their R&D activities from other sources.

In its 2023 report, alongside the top 100 global innovators, Patsnap has published the 50 global disruptors – ambitious growth companies bringing breakthrough technologies that have the potential to replace existing technologies. These companies have the potential to become the greatest global innovators in the future. Europe's position in the Global Disruption 50 is very unfavourable as it is represented by only 3 companies (Ireland's Stripe in information technology, the Netherlands' Ultimaker in 3D printing and the UK's V-Nova International in information technology). In contrast, the United States and the People's Republic of China have 25 and 20 enterprises respectively in this ranking.



The 2023 Patsnap’s top 100 global innovators include 24 European "established" corporations, which can be called the family silver of European industry. At least two of them (Siemens, Safran or Bosch as the case maybe) are among the largest corporate recipients of European funding from the EU's research and innovation Framework Programmes. These corporations claim a net EU contribution higher than some of Europe's innovation/research underperformers. Even so, in the largest corporations, the funds received from the EU Framework Programmes represent only a small part of their budgets for R&D activities. Similarly, the amount claimed by the 24 European corporations from the EU Framework Programmes represents only a tiny fraction of the resources of these programmes.

Conversely, the virtual absence of European companies in the list of the 50 most ambitious, dynamic companies with the potential to bring breakthrough technologies that significantly change the world of production, work or communication is a very worrying signal for Europe. This ranking is dominated by American and Chinese firms.


Prepared by: Vladimír Vojtěch, TC Prague,, 5th February 2024


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