A 30-year Look At Support for Academic R&D

July 26, 2002

The importance of strong academic R&D capabilities in building state and regional tech-based economies cannot be overstated. Subsequently most states, either independently or in partnership with federal EPSCoR programs, are making investments toward strengthening their academic research enterprises. Some also have invested in programs to attract, leverage or match federal R&D investments.

One of the latest InfoBriefs from the National Science Foundation outlines trends over 30 years in federal and non-federal support for academic R&D. While federal spending for academic R&D grew by an inflation adjusted 180 percent between 1972 and 2000, the findings reveal federal support played a diminishing role compared to non-federal sources, which grew by nearly 350 percent during the period. Federal R&D expenditures represented only 58.2 percent of total academic R&D support in 2000.

Institutionally financed R&D continued its 30 year climb to represent a record 19.7 percent of the total in 2000. State and local support declined during the period from a high of 10.2 percent in 1972-1975 to a new low of 7.3 percent in 2000. Industrial R&D, comprising 7.3 percent of total academic R&D support in 2000, more than tripled during the three decades from only 2.8 percent in 1972.

The InfoBrief also presents the distribution of funding for academic R&D support across 11 fields of science and engineering. InfoBrief NSF 02-323 can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf02323