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News Release 06-077

Industry Funding of Campus Research Declines for Third Straight Year

Companies still fund large majority of U.S. research and development

The federal government supported 64 percent of campus R&D projects in 2004.

The federal government supported 64 percent of campus R&D projects in 2004.

May 4, 2006

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Industry support of science and engineering (S&E) research and development (R&D) on campus fell in 2004 for the third year in a row, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) survey. While private investment fell 2.6 percent that year, federal government investment rose 10.7 percent.

Federal spending on campus research totaled $27.4 billion in 2004, compared with $2.1 billion from industry.

Still, corporations continue to fund the bulk of R&D research in the United States--mostly in their own laboratories.

But on campuses, the federal government underwrote 64 percent of the research and development projects during the survey year, investing the most in biological and medical sciences. Together, those two fields received about half of the federal R&D dollars.

Psychology and mathematics received the least amount of government support.

The Department of Health and Human Services provided the most--$14.1 billion--for campus research. NSF provided the second largest amount--$3.2 billion--mostly in support of R&D in engineering and the biological, computer, environmental and physical sciences.

The data were obtained from 612 colleges and universities that grant degrees in the sciences or engineering and spend at least $150,000 a year on R&D. It appeared in an April 2006 InfoBrief published by NSF.

Among the universities surveyed, Johns Hopkins ranked highest in R&D expenditures in 2004. Other top institutions included several University of California campuses, the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Washington.

Although industry support of campus research has waned steadily for the past 3 years, businesses spend almost 10 times more on R&D overall than the federal government does. In 2003, for example, companies spent a total of $204 billion on R&D, according to a survey conducted by NSF and the U.S. census bureau and published in a Dec. 2005 InfoBrief.

In 2003, some 38,000 companies performed R&D in the United States. In the manufacturing sector, the auto industry, drug manufacturers and the semiconductor industry spent the most. Software publishing led the non-manufacturing sector.


Media Contacts
Leslie Fink, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-5395, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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