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NSF Releases 2003 Academic R&D Data

September 12, 2005

University R&D is considered a fundamental element of innovation and technological competitiveness. If R&D spending equates to more R&D, then the 10 percent increase between 2002 and 2003 as reported by the nation's academic community to the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be a rosy sign for America's future.

Aggregate academic R&D expenditures in 2003 totalled $40.077 billion, up from $36.37 billion in 2002. The burden of funding for academic research continues its shift toward government and away from the nation's industrial community.

Reaching a level not seen since 1985, the federal total of $24.734 billion represents 61.7 percent of the 2003 total, up from 60.1 percent in 2002. State government-supported R&D rose 5.9 percent between 2002 and 2003, but only represents 6.6 percent of the total.

While total state support has increased over the years, the states' share of total academic R&D has continued a generally downward trend since 1950, when it contributed 15.1 percent.

Total industrial support for academic R&D in 2003, on the other hand, declined for the second consecutive year. Industrial R&D funding totalled only $2.162 billion in 2003, down $25 million from the 2002 figure. Industry's share of the total declined from 6 percent in 2002 to only 5.4 percent in 2003.

Whether or not the 2003 decline in industrial R&D support in academic parallels an overall decline in industrial R&D expenditures is unknown. The latest NSF data available for the annual industrial R&D expenditures survey is for 2001 (released in May of 2005).

The 65 detailed statistical tables for NSF's Academic Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2003 are available at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf05320/htmstart.htm