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CHIPS Articles: US R&D spending in higher education rose 4.7 percent from FY16 to FY17

US R&D spending in higher education rose 4.7 percent from FY16 to FY17
By CHIPS Magazine - December 3, 2018
The National Science Foundation released a new report today detailing outlays for FY17 for higher education research and development in the United States. The survey showed that R&D reached $75.3 billion in fiscal year 2017—an increase of 4.7 percent from FY2016.

According to the NSF, federal funding of R&D increased in both current and constant dollars, the first such consecutive increase since the peak of expenditures from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 between FY2009 and FY2011. These data are from the Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey, conducted by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation.

The federal government continued to provide the highest share of funding—53.5 percent in FY2017. That share was nearly the same as FY2016 (54 percent), but also the lowest since the survey began in 1953, the NSF said in a release.

R&D outlays funded from universities' own resources reached nearly $19 billion in FY2017. This total accounted for 25 percent of total higher education R&D. The total amount and the share are the largest since the initial survey.

The share of dollars spent by universities on basic research has gradually declined since FY2010, according to the HERD Survey. Basic research accounted for about 62 percent of expenditures in FY2017, compared to about 66 percent in FY2010.

In FY2017, shares for applied research and experimental development increased to 28.5 percent and 9.6 percent respectively. Those figures were an increase over FY2010 numbers, when applied research accounted for 25 percent and experimental development almost 9 percent. While both federal and nonfederal sources funded similar shares of applied research (about 28 percent) in FY2017, a higher proportion of federal funding (63.7 percent) was devoted to basic research, according to NSF analysis.

Two-thirds of the $3.4 billion growth in R&D expenditures for FY2017 came from increases in the life sciences subfields of biological and biomedical sciences, which was up by $664 million, and health sciences, showing an increase of $1.6 million, according to the HERD Survey

Johns Hopkins University reported the largest R&D spending at $2.5 billion which includes expenditures for the Applied Physics Laboratory. Other top spenders include University of Michigan, with outlays of $1.5 billion, and the University of California, San Francisco, with $1.4 billion.

The fiscal year referred to throughout this report is the academic fiscal year, typically July 1 through June 30. For more information and data tables, please see the HERD Survey report.

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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