U.S. R&D: Funding and Performance
Why is this important?
Outcomes and benefits of R&D depend not only on the total resources devoted to it but also on the types of R&D these resources support—basic research, applied research, development—and on who performs it.
U.S. R&D expenditures, by source of funds: 1990–2009
Overall, U.S. R&D support from 2008 to 2009 remained nearly level—a drop of about 1.7% in inflation-adjusted terms.
Industry, long the nation's largest supporter of R&D, reduced its 2009 funding in the face of unfavorable business conditions by nearly 4%. This drop was partially offset by a Recovery Act-enabled rise of federal R&D funding.
Funding sources for U.S. applied research and development: 1990–2009
Types of R&D
Resources for applied research and development—work that aims at practical application, new products, or novel processes—declined from 2008 to 2009. Propelled by a $7 billion drop in industry funding, the decline was partially countered by a $4 billion rise in federal government funds.
Basic research is directed primarily toward increasing knowledge or understanding and has long relied on federal government support. Support from industry remained below that from higher education and other nonprofit institutions, and federal support dropped from 62% of the total in 2004 to 56% in 2009.
Funding sources for U.S. academic R&D: 1990–2009
Academic R&D support
The bulk of academic R&D is basic research, amounting to more than half of the nation's total basic research. Sources of support for academic R&D have been relatively stable for nearly two decades: about 60% from the federal government, 20% from institutions' own funds. Industry funding has gradually declined from 7% to about 6%.
Performers of U.S. applied research and development: 1990–2009
The nature of R&D varies by performer. Industry is the dominant performer of the nation's development and applied research; the federal government, academic institutions, and other nonprofit organizations combined perform less than 20% of that total.
Universities and colleges are the prime performers of the nation's basic research, a role they uniquely combine with the training of new researchers. Industry's share of basic research performance has recently risen after years of decline; the federal government share has gradually diminished.