The Line

Manufacturing accounts for 69% of R&D spending

By:Capacity Magazine

Issue:Winter 2015 : Nuts & Bolts


The U.S. manufacturing sector represents 12 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, but it accounts for a disproportionate share of the research and development conducted in the United States.

Manufacturing companies performed 69 percent of all domestic R&D in 2012, with 82 percent of funding coming from companies’ own resources, according to the National Science Foundation. Of the total $302 billion spent on R&D in the United States in 2012, manufacturers accounted for $208 billion. Companies in nonmanufacturing industries performed $94 billion of domestic R&D (31 percent of total domestic R&Dperformance).

Within the U.S. manufacturing sector, computer and electronic products was the biggest spender on R&D, at $65 billion, followed by pharmaceutics ($48 billion), transportation equipment ($42 billion), and machinery ($14 billion). Among the nonmanufacturing industries, software publishers spent the most at $28 billion, followed by scientific R&D services at $16.5 billion.

Private-sector companies funded $247 billion of the total $302 billion spent on R&D, with $30.6 billion coming from federal sources and $24.3 billion from “other sources,” such as companies located outside the United States, state government agencies, foreign government agencies and laboratories, and other organizations located in and out of the United States. Manufacturing industries spent 3 percent of their total revenue on R&D, with pharmaceuticals leading all other industries at 12.7 percent of R&D intensity, followed by aerospace (10.1 percent), computers (9.8 percent) and transportation equipment (4.6 percent). Companies with the highest number of employees (more than 1,000) spent the least on R&D, as measured by R&D intensity (3.1 percent).


Articles in THE LINE are reprinted with permission from

Manufacturers & Technology News.