Useful Stats: Higher Ed R&D Performance by Metro and Field

Taking a deeper dive into R&D expenditures at U.S. institutions of higher education, this week’s edition of Useful Stats examines the fields in which this R&D was performed at the metropolitan level in 2018. Expanding on a previous SSTI report showing that R&D activity at universities and colleges is clustered heavily on the coasts, this analysis uses the NSF’s Higher Education R&D (HERD) data on the research expenditures at individual institutions to determine how this funding is distributed among the various fields of study, with life sciences outpacing all other fields.

As shown in the map below, HERD expenditures in the life sciences (primarily the biological, biomedical, and health sciences) accounted for the vast majority of all higher education R&D activity in the U.S. — accounting for 57.8 percent ($45.8 billion) of the total performed in 2018. Engineering R&D was a distant second, accounting for 15.6 of the total.

Proposal would create 10 new innovation hubs across US

Brookings and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) are proposing a new concentration of federal investment into 10 metros with a goal of creating new innovation hubs. The Case for Growth Centers is likely an early entry of what will be many suggestions between now and next November for “massive federal” policies, but may be one of the most directly relevant to regional innovation economies. More details on their proposal and its potential impacts follow.

Useful Stats: Higher Education R&D Performance by Metro, 2009-2018

This week’s edition of Useful Stats covers Higher Education Research & Development (HERD) expenditures at the metropolitan level, pulling from the recent NSF updates to its HERD performance data. High levels of college and university R&D activity is not surprisingly clustered heavily in the East Coast — ranging from the District of Columbia up to Boston — and on the West Coast in California. The 10-year average HERD expenditures were the greatest in the New York-Northern New Jersey metro area ($3.7 billion), Boston ($2.8 billion), Baltimore ($2.8 billion), Los Angeles ($2.6 billion), and Houston ($2.0 billion). These five metro areas account for nearly 21 percent of the nation’s total 10-year average R&D spending by universities and colleges. Of the 209 metro areas included in this analysis — and excluding nonmetropolitan areas — the top 15 metros account for approximately 45 percent of the 10-year average of total HERD expenditures.

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

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.

Useful Stats: Higher Education R&D Expenditures by State, 2009-2018

Expenditures in higher education R&D (HERD) grew in FY 2018, increasing by $4.1 billion over FY 2017, the largest year-over-year increase since FY 2010-2011 according to an SSTI analysis of recently released data from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. For the 10-year period from FY 2009 to FY 2018, HERD grew by 38.4 percent nationally, representing an increase of nearly $22 billion. Higher education R&D expenditures grew the fastest over this 10-year period in the District of Columbia (78.2 percent), Connecticut (65.5 percent), Washington (59.5 percent), and Utah (59.3 percent). The largest absolute gains over the same period were seen in California ($2.5 billion increase), New York ($2.3 billion), and Pennsylvania ($1.6 billion). The map below shows the one-, five- and 10-year percentage changes in each state’s higher education R&D expenditures.

To encourage business R&D: grants or tax credits?

The importance of business and industry R&D investment for competitiveness and economic growth is a well-entrenched dictum of national and state innovation policy across most of the developed world. Approaches for incentivizing increased research expenditures fall into two broad categories, direct grants and subsidies to offset R&D costs or R&D tax credits companies may take post-investment for research expenditures. Direct subsidies or competitively awarded grant programs optimally target specific activities, desired outcomes and performance milestones (e.g., the SBIR/STTR programs). A new paper looks at which approach – direct subsidies or R&D tax credits – actually works better for achieving at least one of the stated policy goals: increasing competitive, private R&D investment?

Three studies probe NIH R&D representation, conflicts of interest

In recent weeks, three separate reviews of R&D grants and awards at NIH have shed new light on issues of minority and women representation among researchers and on potential conflicts of interest by investigators. NIH has been publicly working to address concerns about representation and trustworthiness among its investigators. While the results from these studies show that the agency has more work to do, the availability of this information speaks favorably to NIH's transparent approach to these conversations. 

Useful Stats: Business R&D growing more concentrated in fewer states

Business R&D activity has been historically concentrated in a few states and became even more so in 2017, according to a National Science Foundation issue brief on the latest Business Research & Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS). Despite finding total business R&D surpassed $400 billion in 2017, reflecting a 6.8 percent increase over 2016 results, NSF’s data also reveals R&D activity in five states alone – California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington and Texas – captured well over half of all of the nation’s business R&D investment in 2017. These top states represented 55.2 percent of the total in 2017, while five years earlier their share was “only” 49.4 percent of the reported results.

Useful Stats: Performance of total R&D by state (2002-2016)

This month, SSTI research has examined changes in total R&D and total R&D intensity for each state over a 15-year period from 2002 to 2016. In this final installment of the series, this article looks at how the performance of R&D in the states changed over time. In half of the states (25 states), the share of total R&D performed by colleges and universities increased more than any performer (e.g., industry, federal government) from 2002 to 2016. Meanwhile, 20 states saw industry’s share of total R&D performance increase more than any other performer. The share of total R&D performed by industry increased the most in Wyoming (32.7 percentage point increase), followed by Iowa (19.6 percentage point increase) and Missouri (18.5 percentage point increase).

Useful Stats: Overall R&D intensity by state (2002-2016)

How has the intensity of research and development (R&D) performance changed across states and over time? As a follow up to an article in last week’s Digest that examined changes in total R&D expenditures for each state over the 15-year period from 2002 to 2016, this week’s Useful Stats focuses on R&D intensity. Overall R&D intensity is defined as total R&D expenditures (the sum of all R&D performed by industry, federal labs and agencies, colleges and universities, and other research institutions in a state) as a share of each state’s gross domestic product in a given year.  Notably, five states stand out for exceeding the national average in both R&D intensity and increases in R&D intensity from 2002 to 2016: Oregon, Delaware, California, Maryland, and Massachusetts.


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