Research firm predicts R&D boost

Battelle Memorial Institute

Federal government spending will help fuel an increase in total research and development (R&D) expenditures this year, benefiting defense, homeland security and other burgeoning scientific fields, according to a new report.

Based on data supplied by the National Science Foundation, nonprofit research firm Battelle Memorial Institute predicted that combined R&D expenditures from the federal government, industry, academia and other nonprofits would rise a modest 2.5 percent, from $284 billion to $291 billion.

However, officials at the Columbus, Ohio-based organization, which commercializes technology and manages commercial and government laboratories, said federal spending would provide the largest boost, a nearly 5 percent hike to about $90 billion. Industrial spending is predicted to grow by less than a percentage point for a total of $181 billion and the academia/nonprofit sector is expected to contribute a 7.6 percent growth, to $20.3 billion.

Where that money will be spent is also shifting, the organization outlined in a report that will be released later this month.

"R&D research now has a significant focus on nanotechnology, biotechnology and support of defense and homeland security," said Jules Duga, a Battelle senior researcher, in a press release. "This is a shift from growth drivers in the mid- to late 1990s, when R&D was dominated by pharmaceutical, software, telecommunications and semiconductor technologies."

The report indicated that defense and homeland security would benefit from the increased spending, with focus on developing tools, products and systems for soldiers and first responders. Biotechnology spending will focus on bioterrorism defense applications.

This is the 41st year that Battelle has issued such a report. The organization has 16,000 staff members and conducts $2.7 billion in annual R&D.

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