National Science Foundation (NSF) Reports a 6.8% Increase in Business R&D in the United States

Oct 28, 2019


In a new report by the National Science Foundation (NSF), business R&D performance in the United States reached $400 billion in 2017, a 6.8% increase from 2016. Of that $400 billion companies invested $25 billion (6%) on basic research, $62 billion (16%) on applied research, and $313 billion (78%) on development. The report calls attention specifically to companies in manufacturing industries, sharing that domestic manufacturers performed $257 billion (64%) of domestic R&D, with over 84% of those dollars coming directly from their own private funds.
NSF breaks down business R&D performance by company size and makes note of high-preforming states, which can provide some interesting insight and is noted below.
R&D Performance by Company Size:
  • Companies with 10-249 employees performed 10% of the nation’s business R&D in 2017.
  • Companies with 250-24,999 employees performed 53% of the nation’s business R&D in 2017.
  • Companies with 25,000+ employees performed 37% of the nation’s business R&D in 2017.
R&D Performance by High-Preforming States:
California accounted for 35% of the $339 billion of domestic R&D paid for solely by private companies. While California is the clear leader, NSF reports that other states with large amounts of business R&D paid for by companies’ own funds in 2017 are Washington (6%), Massachusetts (6%), Michigan (6%), Texas (5%), New York (4%), New Jersey (4%), Illinois (4%), and Pennsylvania (3%).
For detailed funding tables, please reference the NSF fact sheet directly.

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