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Useful Stats: Distribution of R&D performance by state

March 07, 2019

Nearly three-quarters of all research and development was performed by the private sector in fiscal year 2016, though this share differed greatly across the states, according to an SSTI analysis of recently released data from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NSF NCSES). Delaware showed the greatest concentration of business R&D (90.5 percent of all R&D in the state), while Tennessee had the most diversified R&D portfolio with a roughly even distribution of R&D performed by businesses, higher education and federally funded R&D centers (FFRDC’s). The interactive chart below shows the breakdown of performers of research and development for each state.


Nearly three-quarters (74.2 percent) of all domestic R&D in 2016 was performed by the private sector, and business R&D comprised more than half of all R&D in 38 states during that year. In 2016, businesses performed the highest share of overall R&D in Delaware (90.5 percent), New Jersey (89.5 percent), and Oregon (88.4 percent).

After the private sector, the second largest performer of R&D in states in 2016 was, on average, higher education. Colleges and universities performed roughly one-eighth of the nation’s R&D in 2016. In Louisiana, two-thirds of the state’s R&D was performed by colleges and universities, the highest percentage of any state. Colleges and universities in Hawaii (57.5 percent) and Alaska (55.1 percent) performed more than half of all R&D in their states.

In a few states, the federal government and federally funded research and development centers (FFRDC’s) performed the majority of research and development. Federal intramural research represented two-thirds of all R&D in the District of Columbia and half of all research in Maryland, the most of any states. Home of Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, roughly three-quarters of all R&D in New Mexico was performed by FFRDC’s, by far the most of any state.

Completed annually by NSF NCSES, the National Patterns of R&D Resources report provides the best overall look at the nation’s R&D performance. The report is based on several other NSF NCSES releases, including the Business R&D Innovation Survey (BRDIS) and the Higher Education R&D (HERD) surveys. Although the report makes data available for both funders and performers of R&D, this analysis only focuses on performance, and only for 2016, the most recent year where data is available for all categories.

Additional data on the distribution of R&D performers by state in 2016 can be found in this spreadsheet, or in the chart below.


useful stats, nsf, federal agency r&d, r&d