Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Research Funding

My Spring 05 Classes

One question that I have periodically asked over the years on tests is "what is the source of the largest shareof research and development funds in the U.S.?" When the question is multiple choice the choices usually include, universities, nonprofit foundations, the federal government, industry, colleges, etc.

At least ninety percent of the time the students' answer is the federal government rather than private industry. But the fact is, private industry is the source of the majority of the research and development in the U.S. Further, most of the funding for the research comes from private industry as well.

The reason why U.S. industry remains competative in the global economy is due in large part to their emphasis on research to develop new pharmaceutical drugs, new electronic devices, computer chips that are smaller and faster, cars that use less fuel per mile, etc. While most of the research done by U.S. industry is appliled research (objective of research is to solve a particular problem rather than seeking knowledge for its own sake), rather than basic research (i.e., seeking knowledge for its own sake), industry still spends more of its own money on reasearch than does the federal government, universities or nonprofit foundations.

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