Useful Stats: Higher Education R&D expenditures by state and field, 2019

Given higher education’s role in generating the knowledge that catalyzes innovative new technologies developed by high-growth startups, R&D conducted at institutions of higher education is one of the most important metrics for evaluating an area’s innovation economy. This edition of Useful Stats examines NSF’s recently updated Higher Education R&D (HERD) survey, finding that most states, although not all, experienced growth in HERD expenditures from 2018 to 2019. This analysis also examines 2019 state HERD expenditures by R&D field, finding that life sciences accounted for the lion’s share of HERD spending in every state except Alaska, typically followed by either engineering; the physical sciences; or the geological, atmospheric, and ocean sciences.

SSTI examines state R&D investment as a share of state GDP, 2009-2018

Industry investment in research and development (R&D) indicates, literally, how invested each state’s businesses are in creating new products and processes. To better-understand industry’s commitment to innovation, business R&D can be viewed as a percentage of each state’s private sector gross domestic product (GDP), providing a measure of research intensity. This measure highlights substantial differences in the orientation of states’ businesses toward research, with some states seeing an investment rate of less than 1 percent while others are above 5 percent.

Federal R&D lost over $200 billion due to Budget Control Act, AAAS finds

In the wake of the Great Recession, Congress enacted the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 to curb federal discretionary spending as the nation approached the statutory debt limit. Originally intended to reduce spending by nearly $2 trillion over the period from FY 2012 through FY 2021, the BCA spending caps were periodically raised by Congress. While these negotiations reduced the overall impact of the BCA, new analysis from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimates that more than $200 billion in federal R&D spending were nonetheless “lost” to these spending cuts, impacting several key elements of innovation economies — higher education R&D, private R&D investment, and STEM workforce development.

Useful Stats: State business R&D performance paid for by companies, 2009-2018

A thriving innovation economy requires a robust R&D enterprise — with participation by academia, government, and the private sector. As a substantial performer and funder of R&D in the United States, the strength of private industry’s R&D activity in a region can provide an indication of the region’s capacity for bringing innovative technologies to market. Using data from the recent release of the National Science Foundation’s 2018 Business Enterprise R&D Survey, this SSTI analysis shows that while total R&D performed domestically by private companies in 2018 increased over 2017, as did the share of the R&D that was paid for by companies, this was not the case for all states.

Useful Stats: Microenterprise R&D performance by state

Stemming from a collaboration between the Census Bureau and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) within the National Science Foundation (NSF), a new data set aims to untangle the dynamics of research and development (R&D) performed by private companies. Specifically, the new Annual Business Survey incorporates previously experimental data on the R&D performance by microenterprises — businesses which employ between one and nine people. SSTI’s analysis of this new data shows the total R&D performed by microenterprises in each state, and the portion of that R&D which the companies paid for themselves.

U.S. falls to 10th in R&D investment intensity, remains first in overall R&D spending

The United States is currently ranked tenth in research and development intensity (a measure of R&D investment as a percent of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product) but has continued to lead the pack in total research and development spending, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently published A Snapshot of U.S.

$5.5B for R&D in CA among critical state ballot initiatives

With the general election less than one month away, SSTI has reviewed the 120 state ballot initiatives throughout the country for innovation-related issues. Education, gig workers, redistricting and issues surrounding elections and state budgets are scattered across the country and can affect the future of innovation through funding, talent and political will. Read below for coverage on the initiatives that could have an impact on different segments of the economy and the future of innovation.

US at a tipping point in science & engineering, new report shows

At a time that is often referred to as “The Age of Technology,” the U.S. has no coherent strategy for maintaining its high standing as a world leader in science, technology and innovation, and has watched as China has overtaken the country on many indicators of prowess in R&D and innovation.

R&D investment within energy, health, defense sectors shown to boost employment, revenue

Government investment in R&D within the health, defense, and energy sectors can provide both immediate and long-term benefits in the form of employment, income, and federal and state tax revenue. A new report released by Breakthrough Energy explores these benefits, while also studying the effects that an increase in public R&D spending could have throughout the nation.

Useful Stats: State business R&D investment (1999-2017)

While business investments towards research and development have varied among states, the overall trend throughout the country has been a positive one. Business R&D funding has weathered two recessions over the past 20 years, with many states seeing investments grow beyond their pre-recession levels. While the scope of COVID-19’s economic impact continues to grow, business R&D investment has shown a strong history of recovering from, and building beyond, national financial downturns.


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