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News Release 13-162

NSF study documents proportion of university R&D funded by business

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Most universities reported some level of R&D funding from business in 2011.

September 19, 2013

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

According to a recent study published by the National Science Foundation (NSF), universities reported that almost 5 percent, or $3.2 billion, of their $65 billion total in expenditures for research and development (R&D) in fiscal year 2011 was funded by businesses. This percentage has remained stable since the late 1970s, and did not differ much between public and private institutions.

Sixty-seven percent of the universities surveyed reported some level of R&D funding from business in 2011, with 38 percent of those reporting business-funded expenditures in excess of $1 million. The top 15 academic institutions that received business funding accounted for 37 percent of the $3.2 billion total. A majority of the R&D funding by businesses was directed to the medical sciences (39 percent) and engineering (26 percent).

Businesses reported that payments to U.S. colleges and universities for collaborative R&D projects or purchased R&D services represented less than 1 percent of company R&D spending. However, about one-third of companies that performed large amounts of R&D reported making payments or initiating new R&D collaborations with academia in 2010.

This study gathered data from two NSF surveys--the Higher Education R&D Survey and the Business R&D and Innovation Survey--to examine businesses' R&D collaborations with academic institutions, as well as relationships between businesses and academia.

Please visit the NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics for more reports and other products.


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344, email:

Program Contacts
Ronda Britt, NSF, (703) 292-7765, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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