NSF crunches the (eroding) numbers on academic R&D

The National Science Foundation has once again completed its annual list of the top 20 academic institutions engaged in research work. And once again Johns Hopkins has come in at the top, with $1.55 billion in research spending in fiscal 2007. This is the 29th year Johns Hopkins has claimed the big money prize. The money was devoted to research in science, medicine and engineering.

But the numbers this year offer a grim reminder of the steadily eroding amount of money being provided for R&D. The federal government provides the lion's share of the money; more than 60 percent of academic R&D funds for the past 36 years. While federal funds rose 1.1 percent to $30.4 billion last year, that sum amounted to a 1.6 percent decline after adjusting for inflation.

Johns Hopkins has long been a trendsetter in biotech research work. And the research has sparked a number of spin-offs in the biotech field. Amplimmune was one of the startups to get underway on campus and Iatrica was launched last year. UC San Francisco followed Johns Hopkins with $843 million in research spending while the University of Wisconsin counted $620 million in research projects. Both of the universities are centered in regions with considerable biotech activity.

- check out the NSF release
- read the report from the Baltimore Business Journal