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Useful Stats: Federal S&E funding to higher ed by city, institution, and type of activity in 2019

August 26, 2021
By: Colin Edwards

Understanding how federal funding for the science and engineering (S&E) activities of the nation’s institutions of higher education (IHEs) is distributed locally within states can help innovation leaders develop programs and policies tailored more carefully to the varying conditions of regional innovation economies. This edition of Useful Stats builds on our previous state-level analyses of federal S&E support to IHEs by type of S&E activity and by funding agency, using 2019 data on individual institutions from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions, providing a detailed city-level view of the distribution of federal S&E funding to IHEs within states.

As seen in the interactive map below, regional clusters of S&E intensity can be seen along the east coast and New England, the Great Lakes, parts of the southeast, Texas, California, and the Pacific Northwest. Exploring the map reveals that the cities with the greatest levels of total federal S&E funding at IHEs in 2019 were Baltimore, Maryland ($2.14 billion); New York, New York ($1.71 billion); Atlanta, Georgia ($1.14 billion); Los Angeles, California ($1.01 billion); and La Jolla, California ($0.94 billion). Using the interactive map to zoom in on these cities shows the individual institutions that contributed to the local totals. The enormous amount of federal S&E support received by IHEs in the Baltimore area during 2019 was almost exclusively driven by Johns Hopkins University which alone received more than $1.89 billion in federal S&E support, and was followed by the University of Maryland at Baltimore with $200 million. Alternatively, the federal S&E funding received by IHEs in New York City was much more evenly distributed across a greater number of institutions, with Columbia University topping the list with approximately $687 million in 2019, followed by New York University ($447 million) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai ($405 million).

Pro tip: If you cannot get your curser to hover over a specific city circle to show the city and institution details, use the toolbar on the left side of the interactive map, or your mouse controls, to zoom in on regions until individual circles are uncovered.

Using individual institution* data, the interactive map aggregates institution data at their zip code-linked cities, rather than at the larger metropolitan statistical area- or combined statistical area- levels, providing finer geographical detail on cities and their surroundings than is typically readily available from federal data sources, most academic studies, and innovation indices . Zooming in on regions in the interactive map will provide greater clarity about how IHEs and their federal S&E funding is distributed in and around states. Additional detail on the types of S&E activities undertaken at local IHEs can be seen using the filter at the top-right corner of the map.


Click here for the previous edition of Useful Stats examining state-level data on federal S&E support to IHEs in 2019 by type of S&E activity, and click here for the state-level analysis by funding agency.

An excel workbook containing the data used in this analysis can be accessed here.

*Multi-state and other large consortia are excluded; obligations to university systems have been aggregated in the cities where the system headquarters/administrative offices are located.

useful stats, higher ed, s&e