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Private labs prosper but federal funding falls

Total federal R&D spending fell 1 percent in 2015, despite an increase in research funding, according to the National Science Foundation.

The decrease in federal R&D spending between fiscal year 2014 and FY 2015 was $1.1 billion dollars, the NSF said in its annual report. But while spending on research alone increased by 1 percent, from $62.9bn to $63.6bn, development spending, on the other hand, fell $2.4bn, to $64.9bn.

Increased spending by federally funded R&D centers partly accounted for the growth in research funding. These labs are privately operated but supported mostly or entirely with federal dollars. They include several Department of Energy national laboratories and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Center. Together, those facilities spent $18.5bn on R&D, up 3.1 percent from FY 2014.

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