Income from technology licensing from research universities in Florida increased to over $47 million from 2005 to 2006, according to a survey of those institutions. The majority of those licenses were with start-up or small businesses, not corporations, as Florida researchers capitalized on 157 patents granted in 2006. More private investors are putting money into the universities’ research efforts, which makes up for flat or falling federal funding of university research.

Read the South Florida Sentinel-Sun article.

Research funding has changed dramatically in the past two decades, with a shrinking portion of R&D dollars coming from the federal government and far more coming from corporations and private investors as well as state and local governments. Many people have written about the increasing numbers of foreigners who receive their degrees in the US, but then go back to their home countries as there are more opportunities and less red tape. Early last year, four senators proposed the “Protecting America’s Competitive Edge” (PACE) Act, which would direct more funds to schools and universities for research.

America Isn’t Ready (CNN Money)

4 Senators Introduce Bipartisan PACE Act (US Senate)

Scientists Concerned About Slowdown in US Government Research Spending (VOA News)

More private investment in R&D is not a bad thing in and of itself, but privately funded research typically comes with strings attached. Corporations and private equity firms want to see return on the money they invest whereas more of the developments are available to more people when funded by the government.

Should the government put more money into university research? What will we have to do to keep our competitive edge against China, India, and other countries who are churning out millions of college graduates every year? Should we try harder to keep foreign degree earners in the US to do research? Join the discussion.