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Useful Stats: Higher education R&D expenditures by state and source of funds

December 05, 2019
By: Jason Rittenberg

Across the U.S., the federal government provided 53 percent of R&D funding at institutions of higher education in FY 2018. Those institutions provided 26 percent of the funding themselves, and most of the remainder was provided by a mix of nonprofit organizations (7 percent), industry (6 percent), and state and local government (5 percent). The specific contributions varied from state to state, however, with some relying more on specific relationships to support R&D within the state.

As covered recently by SSTI, NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics provides survey data on R&D funding at institutions of higher education. NSF’s report includes source of funding, attributable to federal government, state and local government, institutions, business, nonprofit organizations, or other sources.

Maryland (77 percent) and Colorado (70 percent) were the states that were the most dependent upon federal R&D spending, joined by the Virgin Islands (91 percent) and Guam (77 percent) as the only regions with more than two-thirds of their funding from the federal government. North Dakota (34 percent), Arkansas (37 percent), Wyoming (38 percent), and Louisiana (39 percent) were the only states with less than two-fifths of funding from the federal government. R&D funding by source for each state is displayed in the figure, below.

North Carolina (11 percent) and Kansas (11 percent) had the highest portion of their higher education R&D funded by business in FY 2018. In addition to Guam, which reported $0, Hawaii (0 percent), Virgin Islands (1 percent) and New Mexico (1 percent) had the least business spending for R&D at institutions of higher education. Note that business spending for R&D at universities follows significantly different patterns than R&D conducted at any institution, which has been three-quarters funded by industry.

State and local government funding tended to be most important in states ranking near the bottom of total R&D funding. Texas was the most notable exception to this rule of thumb (4th overall, 15 percent state and local funded). Nebraska (34th, 13 percent) and Mississippi (36th, 20 percent) were the only other states with significant state and local government contributions that were not in the bottom 10 for total R&D expenditures.

R&D expenditures by source are scaled to the amount of funding in the visualization, below.

useful stats, nsf, r&dFile HERD18_statesource.xlsx