US R&D spending to rise, petchems lead in basic research

07 February 2011 22:19  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US corporate funding for research and development (R&D) may see a dramatic turnaround this year, a report said on Monday, with the petrochemicals industry expected to post the only private sector increase in basic research spending.

In its annual survey of R&D managers across a broad spectrum of US industry, the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) said that “2011 may see a dramatic turnaround in R&D investment” and that “R&D increases are expected across almost all industry sectors”.

“Overall, R&D managers are optimistic about their budgets for 2011,” said the institute. “This reverses the pessimistic trend that has characterised the past couple of years.”

While almost all major industrial sectors indicated increased overall R&D spending this year, companies involved in the aerospace sector expect reduced funding for 2011, and consumer products manufacturers anticipate R&D funding levels even with 2010.

However, in the area of R&D spending devoted to support for new business undertakings, only the petrochemicals industry and machinery manufacturing reported likely increases for this year.

And in R&D spending on directed basic research, only the petrochemicals industry anticipated an increase for 2011, according to the survey.

While other industrial sectors such as electronics and aerospace reported basic research R&D funding for 2011 at last year’s levels, most other industries - including consumer products, foods manufacturing and machinery producers among them - expect much lower spending this year in that business-critical area.

In contrast, R&D managers in the petrochemicals industry reported that they expect their basic research funding to increase by around 40% this year compared with 2010.

The institute’s survey report followed a separate study issued in December that showed chemical companies leading other industries in R&D spending on advanced materials and nanotechnology.

Membership in the Industrial Research Institute includes more than 200 industrial and service firms that account for almost 50% of overall US private sector R&D spending, according to the institute. More than 20 chemicals producers are among the institute's member firms.

The survey was sent to IRI member firms and other companies as well.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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