Special Report

10 Universities Spending Billions on R&D

Source: Thinkstock

10. Harvard University
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.01 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 29,652
> 2016 endowment: $34.54 billion

Harvard University spent a total of $1.0 billion on R&D in 2015, more than nearly any other institute of higher education. While most university research is funded by government and private sources and is dedicated to science and engineering, Harvard’s $34.5 billion endowment — the largest of any school — may allow the university more independence in its academic pursuits. Harvard dedicated 9.6% of its total R&D budget to social sciences in 2015, nearly three times the 3.4% average share for all colleges and universities. Most of Harvard’s social science R&D is in the field of political science and financed by the university’s internal funds. Harvard spent $284.1 million of its own money on R&D in 2015, more than all but two other universities.

9. University of California, Los Angeles
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.02 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 41,908
> 2016 endowment: $1.80 billion

The largest of the 10 schools in the University of California system, UCLA spent over $1 billion on R&D in 2015. Roughly $7 in every $10 spent on R&D by the university went to life sciences research, one of the highest such proportions of any higher education institute. The lab receiving the most funding on campus is the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, a biomedical research partnership that has attracted more than $150 million from the National Institutes of Health since 2011. LIke many large research universities, UCLA recently founded a campus nonprofit — the Westwood Technology Company — to help transition student and faculty research projects into licensed commercial products. The UC system was awarded 489 patents in 2015, more than any other academic body worldwide.

Source: Thinkstock

8. Stanford University
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.02 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 16,980
> 2016 endowment: $22.40 billion

Stanford University spent over $1 billion on R&D in 2015. An estimated 63% of the university’s R&D budget was dedicated to life sciences, 13% to engineering, and 9% to physical sciences. Roughly $675.9 million of the school’s R&D expenditure was funded by the federal government, the second most of any private university. The Department of Health and Human Services accounted for 66% of Stanford’s federal funding, and the Department of Defense accounted for 12%. The high R&D spending has likely yielded a number of patents and inventions. Stanford students and faculty were awarded a total of 205 patents in 2015, more than any university body other than MIT and the University of California system.