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U.S. Science and Engineering Indicators 2006

Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) is first and foremost a volume of record comprising the major high quality quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise.

The report is produced by the National Science Foundation (NSF) which is an independent United States federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…”

The annual budget of the agency is about $5.5 billion, and is considered to the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

The National Science Foundation has a Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS) which monitors and publish data, and analyses about the United States science and engineering resources.

In the introduction of the report the following describes its content.

Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) is first and foremost a volume of record comprising the major high quality quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise. SEI is factual and policy-neutral. It does not offer policy options and it does not make policy recommendations. SEI employs a variety of presentational styles—tables, figures, narrative text, bulleted text, web-based links, highlights, introductions, conclusions, reference lists—to make the data accessible to readers with different information needs and different information processing preferences.

The main findings of the report, without detailed figures are th following

National R&D Trends

  • U.S. R&D declined for the first time in almost 50 years in 2002 as a result of cutbacks in business R&D, but it has since recovered due to growth in all sectors of the economy.
  • The decades-long trend of federal R&D funding shrinking as a share of the nation’s total R&D reversed after 2000.
  • U.S. R&D is dominated by development, largely performed by the business sector, with most basic research conducted at universities and colleges.

Location of R&D Performance

  • R&D is geographically concentrated, and states vary significantly in terms of the types of research performed within their borders.

Business R&D

  • Business sector R&D is projected to have rebounded from its 2002 decline to a new high in 2004.

Federal R&D

  • The current level of federal investment in R&D, both in absolute terms and as a share of the budget, is over an order of magnitude greater than what it was prior to World War II.
  • Defense-related R&D dominates the federal R&D portfolio.

Federal R&E Tax Credit

  • From 1990 to 2001, research and experimentation (R&E) tax credit claims by companies in the United States grew twice as fast as industry-funded R&D, after adjusting for inflation, but growth in credit claims varied throughout the decade.

Technology Linkages: Contract R&D, Public-Private Partnerships, and Industrial Alliances

  • Since 1993 R&D expenses paid to other domestic R&D performers outside their companies have increased as a proportion of company-funded R&D performed within firms.
  • Participation by federal laboratories in cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) increased in FY 2003 but was still below the mid-1990s peak.
  • U.S. companies continue to partner with other American and international companies worldwide to develop and exploit new technologies.

International R&D

  • R&D is performed and funded primarily by a small number of developed nations.
  • R&D intensity indicators, such as R&D/gross domestic product (GDP) ratios, also show the developed, wealthy economies well ahead of lesser-developed economies.

R&D Investments by Multinational Corporations

  • U.S. multinational corporations (MNCs) continued to expand R&D activity overseas. However, the level of R&D expenditures by foreign MNCs in the United States has been even larger in recent years.
  • Cross-country R&D investments through MNCs continue to be strong between U.S. and European companies. At the same time, certain developing or newly industrialized economies are emerging as significant hosts of U.S.-owned R&D, including China, Israel, and Singapore.

Related Sources

United States National Science Foundation

Science and Engineering Indicators 2006