Corporate Research Support Rebounds

February 1, 2007

After a three-year slide, industry funding for university research and development in science and engineering fields reached an all-time high of $2.3 billion in the 2005 fiscal year. Support rose by 7.7 percent, according to data from the National Science Foundation Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges.

The report notes that the increase was enough to stabilize industry's share of total academic R&D funding, which had dropped from a high of 7.4 percent in 1999 to below 5 percent last year. Corporate funding, important to colleges for financial reasons and as a sign that their research has real-world support, accounted for 5 percent of R&D funding in science and engineering in fiscal 2005.

In all, colleges reported research and development expenditures of $45.8 billion in 2005, a 5.8 percent increase from a year earlier and a 50 percent increase from fiscal 2000. (When adjusted for inflation, academic R&D rose by 3 percent in fiscal 2005, the report notes.)

Duke University ($135 million) led the way in industry-financed R&D expenditures, followed by Pennsylvania State University and Ohio State University, as seen in the table below:

Industry-financed R&D expenditures at universities, 2005

Institution Total (in 000s)
Duke U. 134,608
Pennsylvania State U. * 87,928
Ohio State U. * 81,423
Massachusetts Inst of Technology 72,121
U. of Maryland at Baltimore 57,806
Purdue U. * 46,571
U. of Washington 45,281
North Carolina State U. 38,710
U. of Texas at Austin 35,045
U. of Pennsylvania 34,483
U. of California at San Diego 34,259
U. of Michigan * 34,191
U. of California at San Francisco 34,175
Stanford U. 34,072
Georgia Inst. of Technology * 33,117
U. of Arizona 32,914
U. of Rochester 31,094
U. of South Florida 28,863
U. of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center 26, 766
U. of Minnesota * 26, 433

Note: Asterisk indicates all campuses of a university.

Of the 640 institutions surveyed, the top 20 in terms of overall expenditures accounted for nearly one-third of total academic R&D spending. Johns Hopkins University easily outdistanced all other institutions again in 2005, thanks in large part to the $678 million it received for its Applied Physics Laboratory. The University of Michigan drew the second-most funds, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison was third. (A list of the top 20 appears below.)

Federally financed R&D grew by 5.6 percent, which ends what was a trend of double-digit growth in recent years. Federal dollars made up 64 percent of total support, and institutional funds were the second largest source of money, increasing 6.5 percent to $8.3 billion. 

The Department of Health and Human Services gave the largest share of federal funding in the 2005 fiscal year ($15.9 billion), mostly in support of the medical and biological sciences. NSF provided the second largest amount of federal funding ($3.5 billion), with most (84 percent) of those funds going toward R&D in engineering and in the biological, computer, environmental and physical sciences.

The medical sciences ($14.9 billion) and biological sciences ($8.8 billion) accounted for roughly half of all research and development money at colleges.

State and local government funding grew by 2.2 percent. The largest percentage increase in funding came from nongovernmental sources (nonprofit organizations and other entities), which gave $3.1 billion, an 8.4 percent spike from the year before.  

All Academic R&D Expenditures, 2005 and 2004

Rank Institution 2005 total (millions) 2004 total (millions)
    1 Johns Hopkins U. 1,444 1,375
    2 U. of Michigan (all campuses) 809 769
    3 U. of Wisconsin at  Madison 798 764
    4 U. of California at  Los Angeles 786 773
    5 U. of California at San Francisco 754 728
    6 U. of California at San Diego 721 709
    7 Stanford U. 715 671
    8 U. of Washington 708 714
    9 U. of Pennsylvania 655 597
  10 Duke U. 631 521
  11 Pennsylvania State U. (all campuses) 626 600
  12 Ohio State U. (all campuses) 609 518
  13 Cornell U. (all campuses) 607 576
  14 Massachusetts Inst of Technology 581 543
  15 U. of California at Berkeley 555 526
  16 U. of Minnesota (all campuses) 549 526
  17 U. of California at Davis 547 512
  18 Columbia U. 535 468
  19 Washington U. in St. Louis 532 490
  20 U. of Florida 531 447


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