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July 31, 1998

The most comprehensive source of statistical information on science and engineering issues has been released by the National Science Board. "Science and Engineering Indicators: 1998" is the 13th report in a biennial series.

The 800-page report contains a wealth of information on a variety of topics, including four cross-cutting themes:

  • increasing globalization of science, technology, and the economy
  • greater emphasis throughout the world on science and engineering education and training
  • structural and priority changes in the science and engineering enterprise
  • increasing impact of science and technology on our daily lives.

Among the findings reported in Indicators are:

  • R&D funding patterns have changed substantially with most of the R&D increases occurring in the industrial sector, which is now providing two-thirds of the nation's R&D funds.
  • Academic institutions undertook 12 percent of the nation's R&D activity with two-thirds of its activity focused on basic research.
  • Links are increasing between industry and academia. Industrial support to academic R&D has grown more rapidly than support from all other sources during the last two decades, but it is still only 7 percent of the total.
  • On the overall science and engineering (S&E) workforce, minorities, except for Asians, are still a very small proportion of employed scientists and engineers in the United States. African-Americans and Hispanics were 3.4 percent and 2.8 percent of the S&E workforce in 1995, well below their shares of the U.S. population (12 percent and 9 percent respectively).
  • In the U.S. software companies attracted more venture capital than any other technology area. In 1995, venture capital firms disbursed a total of $3.9 billion, of which 20 percent went to firms developing computer software or providing software services. Medical and health-related companies were second with 14 percent. By comparison, computer-related companies received just 7 percent of the venture capital distributed in Europe in 1995 and 5 percent in 1996, and European biotech firms received even less.
  • In 1996, 85 percent of all schools had access to multimedia computers, 65 percent had Internet access, and 19 percent had a satellite dish, but only 14 percent of instructional rooms had an Internet hookup.

Indicators is prepared for the National Science Board by the National Science Foundation's Division of Science Resources Studies.

Individual copies of Indicators can be obtained by: 1) completing an order form available at www.nsf.gov/home/orderpub.htm, 2) e-mailing a request to paperpubs@nsf.gov, or 3) phoning 301/947-2722. The request should note the title of the publication and its publication number, NSB 98-1. Multiple copies can be purchased through the Government Printing Office.