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State governments help spur investments in R&D

December 20, 2017

Expenditures for R&D from state government agencies increased by 17.3 percent from FY 2011 to FY 2016, reaching $2.3 billion, according to data from the Survey of State Government Research and Development, a survey sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). Nearly two-thirds of this total – 64 percent – came from just five state governments (California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Ohio).

State government expenditures on R&D in 2016 ranged from $574 million in California to $1.0 million in Vermont. From FY 2011 to FY 2016, R&D expenditures by state governments increased the most in Texas (438.6 percent), Massachusetts (380.3 percent), and Nevada (296 percent). The majority of these increases came from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute in Texas, the Massachusetts Life Science Center, and the Knowledge Fund within the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. R&D expenditures by state governments decreased the most in West Virginia (76.8 percent), Mississippi (68.5 percent), and Iowa (66.7 percent) during that same period.

In FY 2016, state government R&D expenditures mostly concentrated on health (41.6 percent of all expenditures), the environment (18.9 percent), energy (15.9 percent), and transportation (11.4 percent). State governments tended to spend less on R&D related to agriculture (4.7 percent) and other functions, such as public safety and education (7.5 percent).

The NSF recognizes that, given that states have comparatively little experience in tracking and measuring R&D specifically, it is likely that some portion of the reported changes reflects measurement and coverage errors. Because the survey aggregates agency estimates, there are potential inconsistencies associated with using totals to compare states on an annual basis. In FY 2011, for example, 256 agencies reported having some R&D activity, while 365 agencies reported having R&D activities in FY 2016.

The data used to inform this analysis can be found in the attached excel file. 

r&dFile State government expenditures on R&D.xlsx