Data check US government share of basic research funding falls below 50

first_img For the first time in the post–World War II era, the federal government no longer funds a majority of the basic research carried out in the United States. Data from ongoing surveys by the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that federal agencies provided only 44% of the $86 billion spent on basic research in 2015. The federal share, which topped 70% throughout the 1960s and ’70s, stood at 61% as recently as 2004 before falling below 50% in 2013.The sharp drop in recent years is the result of two contrasting trends—a flattening of federal spending on basic research over the past decade and a significant rise in corporate funding of fundamental science since 2012. The first is a familiar story to most academic scientists, who face stiffening competition for federal grants.But the second trend will probably surprise them. It certainly flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which paints U.S. companies as so focused on short-term profits that they have all but abandoned the pursuit of fundamental knowledge, an endeavor that may take decades to pay off. (This month, for example, Duke University’s Center for Innovation Policy will hold a conference entitled “The Decline in Corporate Research: Should We Worry?”) Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Jeffrey MervisMar. 9, 2017 , 1:15 PM The pharmaceutical industry is fueling an increase in basic research investment by companies. NSF defines basic research as “activity aimed at acquiring new knowledge or understanding without specific immediate commercial application or use.” In contrast, it says applied research is “aimed at solving a specific problem or meeting a specific commercial objective.” OJO Images Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Data check: U.S. government share of basic research funding falls below 50% The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is the major driver behind the recent jump in corporate basic research, according to NSF’s annual Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS), which tracks the research activities of 46,000 companies. Drug company investment in basic research soared from $3 billion in 2008 to $8.1 billion in 2014, according to the most recent NSF data by business sector. Spending on basic research by all U.S. businesses nearly doubled over that same period, from $13.9 billion to $24.5 billion.Basic research comprises only about one-sixth of the country’s spending on all types of R&D, which totaled $499 billion in 2015. Applied makes up another one-sixth, whereas the majority, some $316 billion, is development. Almost all of that is funded by industry and done inhouse, as companies try to convert basic research into new drugs, products, and technologies that they hope will generate profits. (The pharmaceutical and biotech industry, for example, spent a total of $102 billion on research and development in 2015, according to Research!America, an Arlington, Virginia–based advocacy group.)Those private sector efforts are now the dominant form of research activity in the United States, with business spending $3 on research for every $1 invested by the U.S. government. In the 1960s the federal government outspent industry by a two-to-one margin, but the balance tipped in 1980.Although eye-opening, the NSF business data are not as definitive as agency officials might like. About 30% of the companies that receive the BRDIS don’t respond; in comparison, nearly every university fills out NSF’s survey on research in higher education. And even companies that do return the business survey often ignore the question asking them to divide the company’s overall research investment into basic and applied pots, notes John Jankowski, head of R&D statistics within NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics in Arlington.The NSF data capture another notable trend: a slow but steady rise in spending on basic research by universities and private foundations. Their combined $22 billion investment in 2015 represents a 25% share of the U.S. total, up from 21% in 2010 and 17% in 1995.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *