Market research firm IC Insights said on July 26 that South Korean semiconductor companies’ R&D investment was equivalent to 8.1 percent of their sales last year whereas the figure was 16.9 percent, 12.7 percent, 11.5 percent and 11.3 percent in the case of U.S., Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese semiconductor companies, respectively.
From 2011 to 2021, the annual R&D spending in the global semiconductor sector increased from US$50.8 billion to US$80.5 billion. U.S.-headquartered companies increased their R&D investment-to-sales ratio from 54.5 percent to 55.8 percent.
In non-Japan Asia, the ratio jumped from 18 percent to 29.5 percent in that period. South Korean companies’ R&D spending, US$9.9 billion, accounted for 11.9 percent of the global total in 2021. On the other hand, the ratios of European and Japanese companies fell from 11.6 percent and 15.9 percent to 8.1 percent and 6.6 percent from 2011 to 2021, respectively.
Still, the absolute amount of R&D investment of South Korean companies in the industry is relatively smaller. Intel’s R&D investment amounted to US$15.2 billion last year, when Taiwanese companies’ was US$11.7 billion.