Developing innovative products and continously improving our dialysis treatments are an inherent part of our growth strategy. Our worldwide research and development (R&D) activities, which are centrally managed by the Global Research & Development division (GRD), enable us to develop products efficiently and to systematically promote the exchange of knowledge and technology between regions.
In 2017, Fresenius Medical Care spent a total of around €131M on research and development (2016: €147M). R&D expenditure corresponded to around 4% (2016: 5%) of our health care product revenue. Around a quarter of our R&D expenditure went into funding advance developments, laying the foundation for future product innovations. At the end of 2017, our patent portfolio comprised some 8,396 property rights in approximately 1,253 patent families, i.e. groups of patents linked to the same invention. Our R&D work in the financial year produced around 126 additional patent families. A broad portfolio of patents will provide us with a wide range of treatment options in this competitive area in future.
In 2017, 825 highly qualified employees (full-time equivalents) worked for Fresenius Medical Care in R&D worldwide (2016: 794). They come from various backgrounds: Physicians work side by side with software specialists, business economists and engineers in interdisciplinary teams. Around 530 employees - the majority of our R&D staff - are based in Europe. Most activities are carried out at our facilities in Schweinfurt and Bad Homburg v.d. Höhe (Germany). Other R&D sites are in St. Wendel (Germany), Bucharest (Romania) and Krems (Austria). In the U.S. we maintain centers of excellence for the development of devices in Concord (California) and for dialyzers and other disposable products in Ogden (Utah). Development activities in Shanghai and Changshu (China) are focused on the growing demand for cost-effective dialysis systems in Asia and emerging markets. The global R&D organization coordinates collaboration and technology exchange among the various sites. As part of our innovation culture, we also strive to carry out research and development responsibly.