In 1995, the European Commission, DG XII, commissioned a survey of the top 500 European industrial companies. The main objectives of the survey were to examine the RTD strategy process of these companies and to understand the 'why and how' of their participation in the Community's RTD Framework Programme and EUREKA. The survey found that, in a competitive environment which has dramatically changed over the last few years, the top 500 companies spend, on average, 1% of their total sales on research activities and 3% on development activities. In recent years, given the clear trend toward general cost reduction, RTD activities have come to focus on cost reduction and on innovation. The effectiveness of RTD activities is rarely measured, with the major factor in defining the RTD strategy usually the size of the budget allocated for RTD activities. As pressures on budgets increase, companies are increasingly turning to partnerships to reach their RTD objectives. The survey found that 22% of total research expenditure went to sub-contractors or on research carried out in partnership with similar companies or universities. Collaboration arrangements are usually short term and impose few constraints on the partners. As regards participation in the Framework Programme and EUREKA, only the largest of the top 500 companies participate in both, while the smaller companies are more likely to participate in only one. Funding from the Framework Programme and EUREKA contributes only 4.8% to the combined research budget of the top 500 companies and is, therefore, not usually taken into account in the determination of the RTD strategies of these companies. However, at a lower level within companies, the Framework Programme and EUREKA may influence the way the RTD strategy is executed. The survey found that the most significant contribution of European funding was to reinforce partnerships and strengthen research networks. The impact of the Framework Programme and EUREKA tends to be greatest in sectors in which European companies are not leaders. Companies in these sectors are more likely to use European funding to get a strategic edge or catch up with third-country competitors. The Framework Programme tends to be used by the top 500 companies for research activities in core technologies, while EUREKA funding tends to be more concentrated on peripheral technologies. The Framework Programme is often used as a way of sharing risks and financing prospective projects. Fewer prospective projects tend to be financed internally. A report on the results of the survey is currently being prepared by DG XII. This will be based on interviews with a sample of 125 of the top 500 companies, 12 case studies and an analysis of documentation. Comments and guidance have also been received from IRDAC, the Commission's Industrial Research and Development Advisory Committee.