Special Report

10 Universities Spending Billions on R&D

7. Duke University
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.04 billion
> 2015 enrollment: 15,984
> 2016 endowment: $6.84 billion

Duke University received $240.6 million, or nearly a quarter of its R&D budget, from private businesses in 2015, more than any other college or university in the country. One of the largest recipients of corporate funding on campus is the Duke Clinical Research Institute. The DCRI, a contract research organization that has conducted more than 970 clinical trials in medical areas such as cardiovascular, respiratory, and pediatric research, receives 65% of its funding from private industry sources. In addition to the $856.0 million Duke spent on research in the life sciences, the university dedicated $85.6 million to engineering and $25.7 million on the social sciences.

Source: Thinkstock

6. University of Wisconsin-Madison
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.07 billion
> Enrollment: 43,338
> 2016 endowment: $2.42 billion

The University of Wisconsin-Madison spent nearly $1.1 billion on R&D in 2015. The Department of Energy funds over $60 million of the school’s R&D expenditure, more than nearly any other university. One of the largest recipients of funding on campus is the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, a DOE-funded institute housed within the Wisconsin Energy Institute dedicated to the study of advanced cellulosic biofuels. The center has received $265 million in DOE grants since its founding in 2007, and has yielded more than 50 patents. As a whole, the University of Wisconsin-Madison was awarded 161 patents in 2015, the sixth most of any university system nationwide.

5. University of California, San Diego
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.10 billion
> Enrollment: 35,816
> 2016 endowment: $536.13 million

The University of California, San Diego spent $1.1 billion in R&D in 2015. Private funds and charitable gifts accounted for 10% of the school’s total R&D expenditure that year, one of the largest shares of any university. The school recently embarked on a campaign to raise a record $2 billion in private donations over the next decade. The effort received a boost in March 2017, when UCSD alumnus Taner Halicioglu donated $75 million to his alma mater to establish the Halicioglu Institute of Data Science on campus. Recent private support has also helped to launch the Microbiome and Microbial Sciences Initiative and the Contextual Robotics Institute on campus. The school dedicated 4.1% of its total R&D budget to math and computer sciences, 15.4% to environmental sciences, and 58.3% to life sciences — larger shares than at a majority of U.S. universities.

4. University of California, San Francisco
> Annual R&D expenditure: $1.13 billion
> Enrollment: 3,141
> 2016 endowment: $1.14 billion

The smallest of the 10 schools in the UC system, the University of California, San Francisco is the only UC school without an undergraduate program and is focused exclusively on the health sciences. Despite having only 3,141 students enrolled as of Fall 2016, UCSF spent $1.1 billion in R&D that year. Most of the university’s R&D activity occurs at the UCSF School of Medicine. Some 95% of UCSF’s R&D expenditure is dedicated to medical research, and 61% is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The collaboration has spawned a number of startups and inventions by UCSD faculty and students. UCSF research has yielded more than 185 startup companies and over 1,700 health-related inventions. The University of California system was awarded 489 patents in total in 2015, the most of any school system worldwide.