There is a provocative piece in Aug 20 2012 issue (by Connie Guglielmo) of Forbes on Apple’s R&D, countering Pharma (and Tech) trend of decentralizing such efforts. Besides creating many high-level jobs and even more $B, is this creating a sustainable competitive advantage? The link is to a brief online version – the print issue is more in-depth.
For comparisons, Apple, (the highest value firm in the world) has ONE R&D center, compared to peers like Intel that have 30 or more sites. Its R&D productivity is markedly better than its competitors in measures cited in the print article. Other details vs. peers:
However Apple’s arena and core strategy are significantly different from what BioPharma faces, or can craft. (the old “you can’t get there from here” argument.) I have helped design better performance for “virtual” R&D at some of the largest BioPharma’s, and see that, like it or not, decentralized R&D is the future for the winners in this arena. Reasons include the complexity of biological systems vs. consumer goods, Apple’s real product being new disruptive business models (with marginal regulation), and the timeline from idea to ROI
*- Various sources FY 2011 and FY 2012