Research At New England Universities And Industries Facing Uncertain Future Under Proposed R&D Reductions

March 24, 1997

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 20, 1997 - - Members of the New England Congressional delegation were advised today that the high technology industry in the region could be hurt by reductions in federal R&D programs being proposed by the White House and Congress.

The delegation was briefed at the Capitol on a report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The report, which covers six states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont — points out that the region is a major contributor to the nation's R&D industry and received $4.8 billion in federal funding in 1994 (the last year for which detailed numbers are available). The briefing was sponsored by the New England Council Congressional Caucus, co-chaired by U.S. Representatives Richard Neal (D-MA) and Nancy Johnson (R-CT).

The publication, The Future of Science and Technology in New England: Trends and Indicators, reports that New England universities, which contribute significantly to science and technology programs in the region, depend upon the federal government for an average of 67 percent of their research dollars. On average, the nation's universities receive about 60 percent of their funding from federal R&D programs.

"New England universities rely heavily on funds from federal R&D programs," said Al Teich, director of AAAS Science and Policy Programs. "Cuts to these programs will have a profound impact on the universities in the region. Ultimately, New England's economy and its workforce will suffer as a result of any significant reductions."

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.

New England is home to 12 of the top 100 research universities in the nation. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, and Yale all rank among the top twenty university recipients of federal R&D funds, and account for 54 percent of New England's federal R&D funding to universities. According to the report, continued federal support for R&D is vital to the continued strength of the research capabilities at these universities.

Massachusetts receives the most federal R&D funds among the six states, with a $3.3 billion dollar inflow to the state economy in FY 1994, placing it sixth in the nation, followed by Connecticut (22nd) with $737 million. Rhode Island is 25th, receiving $434 million, followed by New Hampshire (34th) with $219 million, Maine (45th), with $83 million, and Vermont (49th), receiving $49 million.

The report is the sixth in a series of regional reports published by the AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Congress to inform scientific and engineering communities about local impacts of trends in federal spending. Reports have been published on Alaska, California, Georgia, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest.

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.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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