U.S. Drops in Ranking of University Research Funding

October 22, 2019

The U.S. has dropped its position relative to other countries in university research funding, according to a new report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), and now holds the 28th spot out of 39 countries, with just 0.2 percent of its gross domestic product dedicated to university research funding.

“Other nations are increasing their investments in university research because they understand the critical role research universities play in generating innovation-based economic growth. Research drives innovation, and innovation drives long-run economic growth -- creating jobs and improving living standards in the process,” Rob Atkinson, ITIF president and lead author of the report, said in a written statement. “The United States can’t rest on its laurels. To once again lead the world in innovation, policymakers must make the necessary investments in university research.”

Switzerland, Denmark and Norway occupy the top three spots, the report said. Switzerland spends 0.76 percent of its GDP on research funding. Comparatively, Romania occupies the lowest position of the 39 countries represented, with just 0.04 percent of its GDP going to university research.

The average share of the GDP used across all countries identified was 0.22 percent. The top 12 countries on ITIF's list all invested double the amount the U.S. does.

“The private sector alone does not and cannot invest in university research funding at the levels society needs,” Caleb Foote, a research assistant at ITIF and co-author of the report, said in a statement. “The university system plays an important role in filling the gap between the current levels of private research and development and the optimal levels for economic growth.”

ITIF used data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the National Science Foundation to compile the report. ITIF is an independent research and education institute that focuses on public policy and technological innovation.

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