Thursday, February 9, 2012

R&D in higher education: some facts

Universities are said to be the home of research, scientific and technological research. Let’s check some facts about the numbers of Universities and Colleges (UC) in the R&D statistics.
We begin with USA R&D data.

1. Only a small share of total R&D is performed by UCs: less than 15% in 2009.
2. But the share of UCs in R&D has grown 2 to 3 times during last fifty years, from 5-6% to 13-14% (see figure).

3. Contribution of industry funds to R&D activities in UCs is less than 1%: the idea that industry financing is important for R&D in USA UCs does not pass a reality check.
4. Federal funds are the most important support for R&D activities in UCs, and they show a long term increasing trend in the share of R&D financing in UCs: from 3-4% to 7-8% during last fifty years (see figure, where sources of funds for R&D performed by UCs is shown as a percentage of total R&D). Federal funds supported 58-63% of UCs R&D bill during last decade.
5. In UCs, R&D basically means R: the role of UCs in D activities is minimal. More than 95% of R&D performed in UCs it is R (research activities), and D (development activities) are less than 5%.
6. Applied research has a small share of R activities: around 20%. This means that 75% of R&D activities in UCs are basic research (see figure: share of total and applied R relative to R&D in UCs).

7. The importance of UCs for total USA R activities has more than doubled during last fifty years, steadly increasing from 15 to 35%.(see figure). But close of ⅔ of R activities are not based on UCs.
8. Federal funding has grown at cagr=10.2% from 1953 to 2009, higher than the cagr for total R&D in the same períod of time (8.2%). 

Now some numbers about Portugal R&D statistics (see figure: only from 1982 until now). Total R&D was 2.8 billion euros, against 400 billion USD in USA. R&D performed by UCs was funded with 1 billion euros in Portugal and 54 b.USD in USA.

A. UCs share of R&D is 36% (2009; 37% by 2010 preliminary data).
B. Share of UCs in total R&D activities have increased last twenty five years, from 20 to 37% (2010 preliminary data).
C. Industry funded 0.9% of R&D in UCs: very similar contribution to the USA one. Portuguese companies contribute with a funding similar to USA companies for R&D in UCs.
D. Government funds do support 86% of R&D in UCs.
E. D activities in UCs had a share of 19% during 2009 - much higher than in USA. R activities were 81% of R&D in UCs. Applied and basic R had similar importance (around 40% each): applied and development activities have much more importance in portuguese UCs than in USA ones.
F. More than half of national R activities are performed in UCs: 53% during 2009.

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