US Academic R&D Spending

According to the latest figures released by the National Science Foundation (NSF), spending on science and engineering (S&E) R&D at US universities and colleges rose 4.3% in fiscal 2006 (ended September 30, 2006) to $47,476 million. As the pie chart below illustrates, spending by the federal government made up the lion’s share of academic R&D for S&E, however, this spending rose only 2.9% last year to $30,033 million. Institutional expenditures grew the fastest, rising 9.7%, while spending by industry grew 5.8%. State and local government expenditures and spending from other sources rose 2.9% and 4.1%, respectively.

The results are based on the NSF’s annual “Academic R&D Expenditures Survey.” The Survey was sent to 660 academic institutions in the US and US territories in November 2006. As of May 2007, a response rate of 97.1% was recorded. From this data estimates were made to account for institutions that did not respond or partially responded.

In fiscal 2006, 75.5% of S&E R&D expenditures by US academia were for basic research and 24.5% were for applied research, consistent with the prior year. By field, spending in the life sciences rose 4.4% to $28,831 million, spending in the physical sciences grew 3.2% to $3,823 million and environmental sciences spending increased 2.0% to $2,602 million. Within the life sciences, the medical sciences accounted for 55% of fiscal 2006 S&E R&D expenditures. The biological sciences, agricultural sciences and “life sciences not elsewhere classified” represented 31%, 10% and 4% of expenditures, respectively. Within the physical sciences, physics and chemistry made up the bulk of R&D spending, accounting for 42% and 37% of the total, respectively.

The Survey also ranked US universities by S&E R&D expenditures. John Hopkins University was ranked number 1, spending $1,500 million on S&E R&D in fiscal 2006, up 3.9%. The University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Michigan’s campuses and the University of California at San Francisco round out the top 5. John Hopkins, the top recipient of federal funding, received 87% of its S&E R&D expenditures from the US government. The top recipient of state and local government spending was the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center, with 27% of R&D expenditures from state and local governments. The University of Wisconsin at Madison was the top recipient of institutional funds, which made up 27% of its spending. R&D expenditures by industry represented 20% of Duke University’s spending in fiscal 2006, making it the top recipient of spending by industry.

The Survey also tracked expenditures for S&E research equipment. In fiscal 2006, total expenditures for research equipment at US universities and colleges fell 1.9% to $1,839 million. Federal spending accounted for 59% of the total. Research equipment expenditures for the life sciences fell 8.5% to $754.7 million. The medical sciences, biological sciences, “life sciences not elsewhere classified” and agricultural sciences accounted for 45%, 40% 10% and 5% of this spending, respectively. Within the physical sciences, expenditures for research equipment for chemistry increased 7.8% to $120.6 million, but declined 4.4% for physics to $152.6 million.

S&E research expenditures for the US federal government’s 37 federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs) was flat in fiscal 2006, totaling $13,212 million. Federal funding accounted for 97% of the FFRDCs’ total S&E R&D expenditures. In fiscal 2006, annual S&E R&D expenditures exceeded $1 billion at four FFRDCs: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

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