Funding | Research

State R&D Funding Increases 11.3%, Dominated by Environment, Health

States spent $1.4 billion in research and development in the latest fiscal year for which there is information, an 11.3 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. Academic institutions claimed the largest share of external expenditures.

According to a newly released brief based on the latest Survey of State Government Research and Development from the National Science Foundation, all told, states spent $942.3 million on external R&D. Exclusive of direct state appropriations, colleges and universities received $477.1 million of that pool in fiscal year 2011, up 4.3 percent from fiscal 2010. Businesses and individuals received $388.1 million, up 24.9 percent from 2010.

In the latest survey, covering fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2010, basic research accounted for $321.6 million of total expenditures, up 9.9 percent from 2010. Non-basic R&D accounted for about $1.08 billion, up 11.7 percent.

Environment and natural resources projects saw the highest level of expenditures from states at $336.8 million but also the second-lowest growth from the previous year (4.4 percent) of all of the R&D categories. Health was a close second at $314.2 million but also experienced relatively slow growth (6.6 percent). Transportation projects grew 7.4 percent, hitting $265.5 million. Energy saw significant growth (18.4 percent) and came in fourth in terms of expenditures at $256.2 million. Agriculture was dead last in expenditures ($74.5 million) and growth (2 percent) in FY 2011. All other expenditures totaled $156.6 million, up 46 percent.

Five individual states accounted for the majority (51 percent) of all R&D expenditures in FY 2011:

  1. New York: $182.7 million, with $70.9 million going toward health programs;
  2. Ohio: $159.3 million, with $47.1 million going to energy projects;
  3. Florida: $150.8 million, with $65.6 million going toward health projects;
  4. California: $149.8 million, with $96 million spent on energy projects; and
  5. Pennsylvania: $71.1 million, with $54.8 million spent on heath projects.

The same states made up the top 5 when taking into account only external expenditures, though the order shifted a bit:

  1. Ohio: $156.7 million;
  2. California: $111.4 million;
  3. Florida: $102.4 million;
  4. New York: $74.6 million; and
  5. Pennsylvania: $65.3 million.

According to the report: "New York, Ohio, Florida, California, and Pennsylvania reported a broad mix of R&D projects, although generally these states concentrated their activities in either energy or health. State government agencies in New York, Florida, and Pennsylvania had the largest share of their R&D investments in health-related projects. In FY 2011 these three states alone spent a combined $191 million on health R&D, or 61 percent of all state government expenditures on these types of projects. California and Ohio's largest shares of R&D expenditures were in energy projects. In FY 2011, California spent $96 million (37 percent of the U.S. total) and Ohio spent $47 million (18 percent of the U.S. total) on these types of projects.

The complete InfoBrief is freely available on the NSF's site.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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