Facts about Basic Research and the Innovation Process
- Universities conduct the majority of basic research in the United States— 55 percent in 2008. Business and industry conduct less than 20 percent of basic research in the United States.
- The federal government is the primary source of funding for basic research conducted in the United States, providing some 60 percent of funding. The second largest source of basic research funding is the academic institutions themselves.
- Basic research is conducted for the sake of knowledge and is essential to scientific discovery and understanding. Basic research is the first step in the innovation process.
- Innovations that flow from university-based basic research are at the root of countless companies. Companies spun out of research universities have a far greater success rate than other companies, creating good jobs and spurring economic activity.
- The US continues to lead in global research and development expenditures from all sources. However, China and other nations are investing aggressively in R&D in order to enhance their innovation capabilities.
- America’s global competitiveness and long-term economic health depends on significant and consistent investment in basic research.
When public money is invested in university-based basic research there is tremendous return on investment. Research creates jobs directly for those involved and indirectly for many others, through innovations that lead to new technologies, new industries and new companies.
The content and examples provided here illustrate some of the economic benefits the nation reaps when companies are created as a result of discoveries in federally funded university laboratories. While there are countless companies that have made use of the fruits of academic research, the roots of the companies highlighted here can be traced directly to seminal research conducted at a university and sponsored by a federal agency.
Were it not for the federally supported research, these companies – their products and services, and the jobs and economic growth that have resulted – likely would not exist.
Explore our database to learn about specific companies that are the result of federally funded university-based research. You can "View All" to see all companies in alphabetical order or you can enter a targeted search term (e.g., cancer, solar, Michigan, Department of Defense) to narrow your view. Selecting "View Companies by Category" provides options for viewing the companies by pre-set groupings (e.g., by university, by funding agency, by innovation).
About this Section
The Sparking Economic Growth
report and the content on this website were developed by The Science Coalition (TSC) to illustrate one way in which federal investment in basic research helps to stimulate the economy. The companies highlighted here were self-selected by TSC member universities and represent only a small sampling of the many companies that are the result of federally funded university-based research.