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News Release 16-007

U.S. R&D increased in 2013, well ahead of the pace of gross domestic product

Business R&D performance mainly drove the increase

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Most R&D funding -- 63 percent -- went toward development, with 18 percent going to basic research.


January 21, 2016

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

U.S. expenditures in research and development (R&D) rose to $456.1 billion in 2013 -- a $20.7 billion increase over the previous year, according to a report from the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

The R&D system in the U.S. includes multiple performers, including businesses, the federal government, non-federal government, universities and colleges, and other nonprofit organizations. Organizations that perform R&D often receive significant levels of outside funding.

The business sector continues to be the largest performer of R&D in the U.S., accounting for $322.5 billion, or 71 percent, of total national expenditures. That figure represents a $20.3 billion increase over the previous year. The business sector's predominance is a longstanding trend; from 1993 to 2013, its annual share ranged from 68 percent to 74 percent.

Universities and colleges accounted for the second-highest performance in 2013, with $64.7 billion, or 14 percent, of total U.S. R&D expenditures. The education sector has a special niche in the nation's R&D system: universities and colleges performed 51 percent of the nation's basic research in 2013.

The federal government conducted $49.9 billion, or 11 percent of the country's R&D in 2013, including $33 billion performed by agencies and in their own facilities and $16.8 billion by 40 federally funded research and development centers. While federal R&D saw yearly increases of between $1 billion and $2 billion from 2008 to 2011, its 2013 total was a $1.5 billion decrease from the previous year.

Other nonprofits performed an estimated $18.6 billion in R&D in 2013, of 4 percent of total U.S. expenditures.

Most of the U.S. total for R&D in 2013 -- $285 billion, or 63 percent -- went toward development. Basic research activities accounted for $80.5 billion, or 18 percent, of total expenditures. Applied research accounted for $90.6 billion, or 20 percent. 

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-2663, email: rmargett@nsf.gov

Program Contacts
Mark Boroush, NSF, (703) 292-8726, email: mboroush@nsf.gov

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 2021 budget of $8.5 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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