The R&D Scoreboard 2006 reports that these 1250 companies (which mainly originate from the US, Japan, Germany, France and the UK) invested £249bn ($486bn) in R&D in 2005/06. There are more than 70 UK companies in the Global 1250, whose total R&D has risen 8% over the past year.

The business performance of companies has shown a steady improvement in the past three years, with profitability increasing to 11% (from 9.6% in 2005) and market cap up a further 6% over 2005. Only 14 of the top 100 companies reduced R&D in the previous year compared with 27 in the 2005 Scoreboard.

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Among the five largest sectors, there has been a steady relative increase in the volume of R&D performed by companies in pharmaceuticals and software; pharmaceuticals is now in second place in the Global 1250, just behind technology hardware. As recently as 1996, there were no pharmaceutical companies in the global top 20; there are now six. Software is the fifth largest sector in 2006, just 10% smaller than electronics & electrical. Microsoft is now in fifth position in the whole scoreboard but was 65th in 1996.

Rapid growth in R&D by companies from some countries in Asia continues. South Korea is now in seventh place in the Global 1250 (ninth in 2003). Taiwan now has the sixth largest number of companies (44) in the scoreboard, but is in 12th place by volume of R&D because it has no large R&D companies.

The top 50 companies are drawn from 11 countries. Companies such as BAE Systems, Eli Lilly, Hyundai, Microsoft and Nokia were not in the top 50 as of 1996.