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U.S. Sources Funded More Than 80% of Worldwide Industrial R&D in 2011

January 07, 2015

U.S. companies performed over $294 billion in research and development (R&D) in 2011, according to the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) – a business survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation. Companies funded an overwhelming majority of the industrial R&D conducted in the U.S. (81.2 percent, approximately $238.8 billion). Approximately $55.3 million of industrial R&D (18.8 percent) was funded by other sources, predominately from the federal government ($31.3 billion). U.S. industrial R&D spending accounted for approximately 81 percent of worldwide R&D performance – $363.3 billion in total industrial R&D in 2011. 

The top industries for domestic industrial R&D spending in 2011 were manufacturing and information technology (IT) with R&D manufacturing accounting for 68.4 percent ($201.3 billion) of all industrial R&D. The top manufacturing sectors for industrial R&D include:

  • Computer and electronic products ($62.7 billion);
  • Chemicals ($55.3 billion);
  • Transportation equipment ($40.9 billion);
  • Machinery ($14.7 billion); and,
  • Electrical equipment, appliances, and component ($3.6 billion).

For non-manufacturing firms, IT accounted for 45.1 percent ($41.9 billion) of total industrial R&D by all non-manufacturing firms.

In the U.S., the majority (80.7 percent) of industrial R&D was conducted by medium and large companies (500+ employees). The data indicates that small companies (between five and 499 employees) conducted approximately $56.8 billion in industrial R&D, with the majority of that total being performed by firms with five to 99 employees (approximately $31.3 billion). The U.S. largest firms (more than 25,000 employees) performed approximately $102.6 billion in industrial R&D.

Other findings from the BRDIS report – Business Research and Development and Innovation: 2011 – include:

  • Industrial R&D funding for select technology focus areas include $55.2 billion for software products, $13.3 billion for embedded software, $5.7 billion for biotechnologies, and $4 billion for nanotechnology;
  • The U.S. issued 101,201 patents, 78 percent to firms that conducted R&D activity;
  • The U.S. has a higher concentration of R&D employees (7.6 percent) than the world average of 6.9 percent;
  • The higher percentage of U.S R&D employees is driven by manufacturing (8.7 percent of all manufacturing employees); and,
  • In non-manufacturing industries, R&D employees account for approximately 6.5 percent of all employees.

The report also provides projections for 2012. The authors project that total domestic industrial R&D was nearly $293.2 billion in 2012 – a 0.3 percent decrease from 2011.

Read the report and download the data tables…


manufacturing, intellectual property, information technology, r&d, nsf