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Useful Stats: State and Local Support for University R&D (2011-2015)

March 02, 2017

State and local governments invested $3.8 billion in R&D at institutions of higher education in FY 2015, with the top ten states accounting for $2.3 billion – roughly 59.4 percent of overall spending, according to an SSTI analysis of NSF data. From FY 2011 to FY 2015, total spending remained relatively unchanged (0.1 percent decrease). Over that same period, colleges and universities in 25 states reported increased expenditures from state governments, while 25 and the District of Columbia reported declines. This edition of Useful Stats examines how institutions of higher education report changing state and local investments in R&D.

Earlier, SSTI looked at how overall university R&D changed over five years. To assess recent changes in how state and local governments have invested in university R&D, SSTI examined the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey in each year from FY 2011 to FY 2015. The survey asks colleges and universities to report information on R&D expenses by sources of funds, which includes state and local governments.

In 2015, the state and local governments that invested the most in R&D at colleges and universities were Texas ($814.1 million), California ($380.9 million), and New York (233.3 million). State and local governments in Vermont ($239,000), Wyoming ($3.4 million), and District of Columbia ($4.9 million) invested the least in higher education R&D. The median amount of state and local government spending on university R&D in FY 2015 was $52.1 million.

Three states in particular stand out for their performance from 2011 to 2015. State and local sources of R&D expenditures at universities and colleges increased by 268 percent in South Carolina, 210 percent in Massachusetts, and 150 percent in Nevada during the five year period. Each of these states has made university R&D a priority in recent years. South Carolina has continued to invest heavily in Centers of Excellence through the SmartState program. Massachusetts’ growth can be attributed largely to targeted investments at the UMass system through programs such as the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Nevada has used the Knowledge Fund at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to invest in R&D at public universities. From FY 2011 to FY 2015, state and local government expenditures on university R&D declined the most in Missouri (74 percent decrease), New Hampshire (49 percent decrease), and Virginia (43 percent decrease).

From FY 2014 to FY 2015, total state and local spending on R&D expenditures at universities and colleges decreased by 1.4 percent. Institutions of higher education reported that state and local investments in R&D increased the most over the one-year period in New Hampshire (152 percent), Hawaii (74 percent), and Massachusetts (58 percent). They declined the most in Missouri (68 percent), New York (33 percent) and Pennsylvania (19 percent) over that same period.

Based on NSF HERD data, SSTI has prepared the following table. A downloadable excel spreadsheet with information for each year from FY 2011 to FY 2015 can be found at the bottom of the page. 

File Useful Stats 021317.xlsx