Companies in this industry conduct research or apply research findings to develop new products or processes in a variety of fields, including life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities. Major companies include Argonne National Laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Quintiles IMS (all based in the US), as well as AKKA Technologies (France), Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, and Qinetiq Group (UK).
Demand is driven by government and commercial investment in science and technology. The profitability of individual companies depends on the discovery of potentially useful or marketable new products. Large companies can compete by employing scientists across several disciplines and taking advantage of economies of scale; they can also compete by managing government research operations. Small companies can compete by focusing on their expertise in a single specialty. The US industry is fragmented: the top 50 companies account for about 40% of revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major services include basic and applied research in three main categories: the physical and engineering sciences (about 25% of industry revenue); life sciences (about 25%); and biotechnology (about 10%). In addition, some companies in the industry generate revenue by licensing patents and other intellectual property, and some receive grants from government and private sources. Companies are often affiliated with major research universities or use a line of research begun at a university. The industry also includes research divisions of major manufacturers such as Nestlé, Roche, and Dow, as well as contract research organizations (CROs) that conduct research on behalf of manufacturers.