When it comes to total dollars spent annually on research and development, no global company outdoes Japan's Toyota.

A study by Economics of Industrial Research & Innovation (IRI), one of seven scientific institutes of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), reveals that Japanese automaker Toyota led in total R&D dollars spent in 2009.

The study showed leading U.S. firms reduced R&D spending in 2009 by 5.1 percent, two times as much as the decline in R&D spending among leading European firms.

Toyota was also the biggest total spender on R&D in 2008, according to the study, which covers the top 1,400 global companies.

Among the trends in world regions determined in the study:

--During 2009, leading European companies reduced R&D investments "much less" than their U.S. counterparts despite a similar drop in sales and higher drops in profits.

--Japanese companies maintained R&D investment despite strong decreases in sales.

--Major companies headquartered in some Asian countries continued high R&D growth of previous years. China was up 40 percent, India was up 27.3 percent and Hong Kong R&D investment was up 14.8 percent.

--Three companies headquartered in the EU are among the top ten R&D investors (Volkswagen, Nokia, and Sanofi-Aventis), three companies headquartered in the U.S. are among the top ten R&D investors (Microsoft, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) and one from Japan is in the top ten of R&D investors (Toyota).

--There were massive reductions in R&D investment by automotive firms in 2009, including Ford (32.4 percent), Renault (26.5 percent), and General Motors (24.1 percent).

--Companies boosting R&D investment in 2009 despite declining sales and profits included General Electric (10.1 percent) and Bayer (8.8 percent).

The 10 largest corporate R&D budgets for 2009 among all global companies, according to the study, includes:

1. Toyota

2. Roche

3. Microsoft

4. Pfizer

5. Novartis

6. J&J

7. Samsung

8. GM

9. Honda

10. Merk