Pacific Northwest's High-Tech Industry Faces Uncertain Future Under Proposed Cuts To Federal R&D Programs

March 24, 1997

SEATTLE, Wash., February 13, 1997 -- High-tech advances in the Pacific Northwest could be hampered by proposed cuts in funding for federal R&D programs, according to a report released today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The report, The Future of Science and Technology in the Pacific Northwest: Trends and Indicators, points out that although the region's strength in industry-funded R&D may shield the economy from the consequences of proposed cuts, the region's universities are likely to feel the impact.

According to the report, universities in Washington and Oregon have contributed significantly to the region's growing biotechnology and medical industry. "Cuts to academic research could have a direct influence on the intellectual support structures of these industries," said Al Teich, director of AAAS Science and Policy Programs. "The pool of trained specialists -- the workforce that has enabled the region's high-tech industry to become a world-class leader in the global marketplace -- may be severely impacted if these cuts are implemented."

During the past several years, congressional and White House proposals have called for reductions in civilian R&D spending of as much as 25 to 33 percent by the year 2002. The President's most recent (FY 1998) proposal calls for more moderate reductions, but the trend is still downward.

Universities in Washington and Oregon depend on the federal government for more than two-thirds of their research funding. The University of Washington relies on the federal government to finance more than 80 percent of its research. In FY 1994, it received $278 million for federal R&D, placing it second in the nation among universities receiving federal R&D funds.

According to the report, research and development are an integral part of the Pacific Northwest's economy. Washington and Oregon's R&D expenditures totaled $6.2 billion in 1993 -- the latest year for which detailed statistics are available. Washington devoted $5.4 billion or 4.2 percent of its Gross State Product to R&D in 1993, far higher than the 2.7 percent national average. Oregon's R&D for 1993 totaled $774 million.

The report is being released in conjunction with the Association's 163rd Annual Meeting which has brought more than 5,000 scientists, policymakers, educators and journalists to Seattle for a five-day conference. The meeting, which was launched today, will feature more than 1,000 presentations highlighting research developments on topics such as genetic resistance to HIV, advances in cancer therapies, new cosmic distance measurements, and the impact of unemployment on segregated neighborhoods.

The Association is the world's largest federation of scientists with more than 143,000 members and nearly 300 affiliated scientific and engineering societies. It conducts a variety of programs in science education and career development, science policy and international scientific cooperation. It publishes the weekly peer-reviewed journal Science and administers EurekAlert! [], the online news service featuring discoveries in science, medicine, and technology.

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