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U.S. business R&D spending up in 2014

by Andrea Widener
September 5, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 35

U.S. companies increased investment in R&D in 2014 to $341 billion, up 5.6% from 2013, according to a new National Science Foundation report on business research spending. The vast majority of R&D output—78%—went to development, followed by applied research with 16% and basic research with 6%. Most of the R&D dollars came from inside the businesses, but some of the money was provided by other companies or the federal government. As might be expected, the largest businesses invested the most in R&D—companies with more than 25,000 employees devoted $122 billion to R&D in 2014. Chemical-related manufacturers spent $66 billion in 2014, the report shows, with 85% of that coming from pharmaceutical companies’ R&D units. Compared with companies from other industries, pharmaceutical companies had among the highest R&D intensity, a measure of the amount of R&D a company performs compared with its domestic sales. In 2014, pharmaceutical and medical companies spent $16.6 billion on capital expenses, assets that will last longer than a year. Overall, chemical-related companies employed 1.75 million U.S. workers, including 172,000 just working in R&D. Nationwide, companies employed 1.51 million U.S. workers in R&D.


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