University spending on research and development rose by less than half a percent nationally in fiscal year 2013, according to data released recently by the National Science Foundation. Such R&D spending is often seen as a gauge of innovation in a state, as research can turn into technology transfer or new companies, and the quality of research can attract top students.

Spending by all U.S. universities totaled $67.2 billion for FY2013 ended July 31, 2014. The NSF released data from its higher education research and development survey in early February.

Maine universities spent $104.57 million in the most recent fiscal year, down from $120.07 million the previous year, but up over the decade from $100.48 million in FY2004. California, Texas, New York and Massachusetts, in that order, were the top four states for higher education R&D expenditures.

One factor is reduced support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, according to a web brief by Ronda Britt, a project officer at the NSF.

Of Maine’s $104.57 million in academic expenditures, $48.8 million came from the federal government, with another $20 million from state and local governments, $28.9 million from institution funds and the rest from businesses, nonprofit organizations and other sources.

The University of Maine spent $77.58 million in FY2013, down from $92.14 million; it was the second-lowest amount from the past decade. It was followed by the University of Southern Maine with $11.7 million in FY2013. Those two public universities were followed by the private University of New England at $6.64 million, Bowdoin College at $4.3 million, Bates College at $2.5 million and Colby College at $1.8 million.

UMaine ranked 57th among all universities for money sourced from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at $4.66 million. Of that, $3.46 million went to life sciences, with another $909,000 to engineering and $253,000 to environmental sciences.

UMaine also was ranked 102nd in funding from the Department of Energy at $4.54 million, with $3.52 million of that going to engineering, $629,000 to life sciences and $388,000 to physical sciences.

By institutions ranked nationally, UMaine was 161st.

In terms of personnel involved in R&D, UMaine had a total of 1,782 people, with 347 of them being principal investigators, 25 post-doctoral students and the rest in the others category. USM had 41 principal investigators, while Bates had 13, Bowdoin 33, Colby 29 and the University of New England 30.

In a separate study released in January, the NSF found that state government agency expenditures for R&D nationwide totaled $1.79 billion in fiscal 2013, virtually unchanged (down 0.6%) from the almost $1.80 billion in fiscal 2012.

Maine spent $6.11 million, placing it behind Connecticut with $41.02 million among New England states, but ahead of the $4.59 million in Massachusetts, $1.83 million in Vermont, $1.79 million in New Hampshire and $1.64 million in Rhode Island.


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