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US 'Nowhere Near' Top in University Research Funding

Mark Marich

Despite an abundance of world class research institutions like MIT and Stanford, the United States lags far behind many other nations in terms of funding university research. In a recent study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the U.S. finished 24th out of 39 countries in government funding and 27th in terms of business funding. 

And in case you aren’t sure if the report's authors are concerned about the showing, the title may provide a clue — University Research Funding: Still Lagging and Showing No Signs of Improvement.

While it is far from the only reason for the lack of federal support, automatic spending cuts mandated by the sequester “immediately cut $8.7 billion from federal research budgets” and “cut $54 billion off the federal research budget over five years—a 7.9% reduction.”

The top 10 countries for government funding of research as a share of GDP are: 

  1. Denmark (0.74%)
  2. Sweden (0.68%)
  3. Switzerland (0.65%)
  4. Austria (0.62%)
  5. Netherlands (0.61%)
  6. Finland (0.61%)
  7. Australia (0.58%)
  8. Singapore (0.56%)
  9. Estonia (0.52%)
  10. Portugal (0.50%)

The U.S. finished 24th in government funding with 0.28%. 

The top 10 countries for business funding of research as a share of GDP are: 

  1. Iceland (0.087%)
  2. Switzerland (0.082%)
  3. Germany (0.072%)
  4. Turkey (0.068%)
  5. Netherlands (0.062%)
  6. Israel (0.053%)
  7. China (0.051%)
  8. Belgium (0.051%)
  9. Canada (0.048%)
  10. Korea (0.046%)

The U.S. finished 27th in business funding with 0.021%. 

Will the performance and outputs of U.S. universities continue to lead the world in the face of lagging research support? Time will tell. 

In the meantime, full data sets and analysis are available in the full report.

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