Research Funding

Research Funding

Fresh Ways to Fund Research

Funding the work of researchers and scientists at colleges, universities and other research institutions is the first step in developing technologies that eventually improve our world. Funding comes from the federal government, industrial sponsors and other sources.

Data collected in 2019 is again pointing at the continuing decline of federal funding while universites seek additional industrial and non-classified dollars to cover the losses. While there was a marginal increase in reported research expenditures of 7.7% over 2018, federal funding has remained fairly flat the past five years. Funding from industry sources increased a modest 6% over the past five years, increasing pressure on universities to identify and compete for scarce resources. Slow growth in federal and industry funding has been offset by faster growth from non-classified sources such as nonprofit organizations and state and local governments.

Key Findings

  • Total research expenditures grew to $77.2 billion, an increase of 7.7% over 2018.
  • Over the past five years, total research funding has risen nearly 16%.
  • Research funding is trending away from federal sources. Over the past five years, the share of funding from federal sources has declined from 58.9% in 2015 to 50.7% in 2019.
  • Funding from industry sources has remained fairly flat the past five years at around $5 billion per year.
  • Non-classified funding grew to $32.9 billion in 2019, an increase of 29.4% over the prior year and an uptick of 46.2% over the past five years.