A Volkswagen XL1 hybrid
Photograph by Jason Lee — Reuters
By Michael Casey and Robert Hackett
November 17, 2014

“Innovative” has become, it seems, a trite descriptor, since marketing departments plaster the word everywhere. So who is actually investing the most in research and development? As it turns out, companies are spending more on R&D than ever before. The Global Innovation 1000, a list of public companies that spend the most on innovation, last year invested a record $647 billion, an increase of $9 billion over the previous year. That total represents two-fifths of all innovation spending by organizations worldwide, according to a report from Strategy&, the consultancy formerly known as Booz & Co.

Where does all that money go? Over the past decade, two industries have accounted for half of all R&D spending: healthcare and computers. Other resource-intensive industries include healthcare, autos, and software. Fortune combed through the annual reports of Strategy&’s top 10 to learn more about how big companies spend their R&D budgets. Here’s what we found.


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