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Corporate R&D Spending Detailed

by David J. Hanson
May 31, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 22

An analysis of R&D expenditures by U.S. companies finds that they spent $330 billion worldwide in 2008 and that $234 billion of that R&D was conducted in the U.S. The data were compiled by NSF and the U.S. Census Bureau as part of the Business R&D & Innovation Survey, which was designed to provide detailed data on business R&D and innovation activities in the U.S. not collected by previous surveys. The analysis shows that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends more on research worldwide, at $69.5 billion, than any other single industrial category. Of that total, $42.0 billion was spent domestically. Other chemical company R&D totaled $10.5 billion, of which $7.1 billion was spent in the U.S. In announcing the report, NSF Director Arden L. Bement said that the U.S. is doing well and holding its own internationally in R&D. “The fear was that we would find U.S. companies were spending too much on research abroad,” Bement said, “but it appears that what U.S firms are spending overseas is about equal to what foreign firms are spending in the U.S.” Future reports from this survey will provide statistics on worldwide and domestic R&D employment and on innovation.


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