man using technology for research and development
Research & Development Services
U.S. R&D services exports generated $46.5 billion in 2020. Research and Development encompasses both R&D at the university level and at the industry level. Promoting research collaboration strengthens our economic development through innovation, workforce development, and attraction of foreign direct investment.

Research and Development Services

Supporting U.S. Academic Research Institutions

U.S. research and development services exports generated $46.5 billion in 2020 with an estimated $13.35 billion trade surplus in research and development services exports.

The United States has long been regarded as the premier destination for cutting-edge research and development (R&D), and American universities have helped propel the United States to this leading position.  According to the Times Higher Education’s 2021 World University Research Ratings, fourteen of the top twenty-five research universities are based in the United States.  U.S. universities perform about 15 percent of the total R&D conducted in the United States according to R&D World Online’s 2020 Global R&D Funding Forecast.  Academic R&D positively impacts economic growth, spurs innovation, fosters entrepreneurship, and attracts foreign direct investment.  

The National Science Foundation’s FY 2019 Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey notes that total R&D expenditures at U.S. higher institutions reached almost $84 billion in fiscal year 2019.  Approximately $44 billion or 53 percent of U.S. academic research is funded through federal government sources, while about $1.3 billion is derived from foreign sources such as foreign industry, non-profits, governments, and academia.  While only a small percentage of the total, this illustrates a growth opportunity.  

How We Can Help Your Institution

The U.S. Commercial Service offers a broad spectrum of customized programs to assist U.S. higher education institutions to internationalize whether it is through increased numbers of international students on campus or by attracting foreign-funded research projects through trade leads, customized business matchmaking, or U.S. government advocacy assistance.  

The Advocacy Center ( provides assistance to U.S. institutions bidding for foreign government contracts. 

U.S. Export Controls

U.S. academic research institutions are reminded that the United States government controls the export of sensitive equipment, software, and technologies in order to protect our national security interests and foreign policy objectives. The export control system consists of two primary sets of export control regulations: The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). EAR regulates “dual-use” technologies that can be used for both civilian and defense purposes, while ITAR regulates the export of defense-related articles and services.

Since research universities conduct over 60 percent of the fundamental research performed in the country, export control regulations are extremely important to faculty, researchers, and students involved in the conduct of research. The controlled export of items, software, technologies, and equipment impacts the conduct of scientific research at U.S. universities.  For more information visit the Bureau of Industry and Security (

Recent Notice: Designation and Determination Pursuant to the Foreign Missions Act (Oct 2019)

Our Goal

Our goal is to engage the R&D and technology transfer offices at U.S. higher education institutions to increase their awareness of ITA and U.S. Commercial Service resources, as well as other resources within the U.S. Department of Commerce, including:

If you would like to learn more about U.S. Department of Commerce resources, you may listen to a free recording of a webinar entitled “U.S. Department of Commerce Resources for U.S. Educational Institutions” at the following link here.

If you would like to connect with us and be made aware of upcoming opportunities, such as trade  events, webinars, or trade leads related to open foreign government tenders, please contact

Upcoming Events

Additional Resources

For questions, or to be added to our email list, please contact:
LeeAnne Haworth
Research & Development Sub-Team Leader
Global Education Team