The control and generation of technology in European food and beverage multinationals
Using a sample of 59 major European food and beverage multinationals and their 8,432 subsidiaries worldwide, we study the characteristics and evolution over time of their inventions. In doing so, we analyse: i) 8,626 EPO applications filed by these companies between 1978 and 2005; ii) 3,650 US patents they applied for between 1978 and 2001; iii) more than 2,000 patent families of three different kinds; and iv) the location of their R&D entres of excellence. We find that the internationalisation of invention is in reality chiefly a European phenomenon for these companies, which also tend to retain their key R&D strategic assets within their home countries or in neighbouring countries. The innovations of EU-based companies which are most closely related to their core businesses tend to be located in EU countries; however, such companies do not display a geographical preference with regard to high value or technically complex innovations, which are generated at home and abroad and inside and outside the EU. From these findings we extract conclusions relevant to European R&D policy.
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