Research and development abroad: German companies have similar priorities as at home

DIW Weekly Report 36 / 2019, pp. 631-639

More than every fourth patent filed by large German companies is based on inventions made in their research laboratories abroad. In three-quarters of the cases, the companies concentrate on technologies in which they are also particularly strong in Germany. The technological performance of research and development at home thus largely determines the innovative strength of German companies operating worldwide.

As this weekly report based on patent data also shows, most foreign research activities are either complementary to domestic research activities or serve to promote sales and production abroad. Internationalisation strategies aimed at compensating for technological deficits in the home country account for a small share. They are pursued by German companies primarily in information and communication technology, the importance of which is increasing as digitisation progresses.

To better absorb and use the knowledge acquired by companies abroad, research in these future technology fields should also be strengthened in Germany. Germany can benefit from the continuing internationalisation of its globally active companies
Germany as a research location benefits if public research, for example at universities, can continue to technological basis and thus remains attractive as a cooperation partner for companies.

Link to Weekly Report