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2022 R&D Index

Illinois’ Capacity for Innovation and Economic Growth

Why R&D Matters to us

Illinois’ universities and the innovation community not only survived but in some cases even thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibiting resiliency while adapting to meet the challenges and opportunities of a new era. The impact of developments in therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical research at Illinois’ amazing academic health centers, universities, federal labs, and innovative companies underscore that there has never been a more important time for critical thinking, research, and scientific discovery. Yet these groups still face headwinds in areas where further investment and support can help ensure future success. The 2022 Illinois Science and Technology Coalition Research & Development Index reveals some critical areas that have been hard hit by the pandemic, but it also showcases the tenacity that permeates through many of these key sectors. Over the past decade, commercialization at Illinois universities has strengthened, and COVID-19 has not stopped that upward trend in performance. Meanwhile, Illinois businesses have found ways to succeed despite having to completely reimagine what work life looks like during a pandemic. Research & Development (R&D) matters more now than ever because the truly life-saving efforts of researchers is evident during the dark times that our nation faces in the wake of nearly 900,000 deaths attributed to this crushing virus. Illinois Science and Technology Coalition has for decades been a champion for the Illinois Innovation Community, highlighting community successes and working to support collaborations across the research spectrum of private and public sector partners. The Index contains summary statistics from published data sources for R&D activity that precede the onset of the pandemic. The Index also includes more recent success stories and examples from Illinois industry investments, universities, federal labs, and collaborations between partners, including impactful innovations during the pandemic.  The research community has been steadfast in its work creating novel solutions to address current needs and tackling long range globally significant challenges. In pursuit of these aims, Illinois universities, Federal Financed R&D Centers (FFRDCs), and companies are working together to deliver a more robust research and commercialization ecosystem. Illinois’ R&D community has delivered on promises to help discover lifesaving medical technologies, address climate change through new clean energy solutions, advance manufacturing through digital transformation, feed the world through life science and agriculture innovations, and advance science and engineering for the quantum economy. Illinois’ Universities are investing more in research than they ever have before. Illinois’ business community has allocated a larger amount of capital for developing new products and enhancing customer service, especially within the medical space. Illinois federal labs are attracting record investments in new scientific fields and increasing partnerships with higher education in commercialization. This Index will analyze trends within industry research and development, university research, FFRDC’s in the state, and joint ventures between Illinois universities and private companies.


Presentation slides can be found here.

Key Findings

Total R&D Activity

• Illinois remained in 10th for R&D activity at universities, FFRDCs, businesses, and all other
• Statewide R&D activity increased by 1.1 billion between 2018 and 2019 according to the most
recent data available from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
• Nationwide growth since 2015 outpaces Illinois growth
• R&D Intensity in Illinois increased between 2018 and 2019 to 2.05%, while the national
average intensity continued to grow as well.

Business R&D

  • Illinois ranked 9th nationally in Business R&D activity with $14.1 billion spent by Illinois companies on research in 2019, an increase of a little over $950 million compared to 2018.
  • Illinois businesses funded 94.8% of Illinois industry projects in 2019, a 2% increase compared to the year prior, representing the second highest amount of ‘in-house’ investments by percentage among the top ten states in Business R&D.
  • Business R&D intensity in Illinois lags behind the national rate of 2.62% with Illinois business R&D activities equaling just 1.76% of total industry output in the state.
  • Illinois continues to rank 7th in the number of Science and Engineering (S&E) jobs filled and has stayed on pace with national growth on this measure.
  • 7,085 new patents were issued to Illinois companies in 2020, including the 292 new issues that went to top patent producer Caterpillar
  • Patent production by Illinois businesses has increased steadily in the state by 4.37% annually since 2016.
  • Illinois is headquarters to 4 companies among the top global companies in R&D expenditures in 2018: AbbVie $4.98 billion (#33), Boeing $3.18 billion (#50), Abbott $2.24 billion (#67), and Caterpillar $1.91 billion (#82)
  • Businesses Performed 60% of their U.S. R&D in 10 Metropolitan Areas in 2018, Chicago is #10 among US MSAs with $10.67 billion in 2018.
  • Businesses with one to nine domestic employees (termed here as microbusinesses) spent $6.5 billion on research and development costs in the United States in 2018, there were 347 such companies in Illinois with a combined $112 million in R&D expenditures.
  • By private industry output Illinois remains the nation’s 5th largest marketplace for companies, increasing by about 1.72% annually since 2015 to $799 billion in 2019.

University-Industry Collaboration

  • Illinois continues to rank 8th nationally in research funded by industry at the state’s institutions of higher learning; $169 million in business support was provided in FY 2020, a $10 million decrease compared to the record high in 2019.
  • The national cumulative annual growth rate in industry funded university research was 5.34% since 2016, which is only marginally higher than the Illinois rate of 4.46% over the same time span.
  • Responding to increases in research funding Illinois has increased its number of co-assigned patents to 65.
  • Illinois co-authored publications by industry-university collaborators decreased compared to 2018 by 45, and the state has fallen to 14th overall in the rankings for that measure.

University Research

  • Statewide research funding at Illinois universities hit an all-time high in Fiscal Year 2020 at $2.76 billion.
  • 61.3% of this past year’s research activity was in the life sciences sector in Illinois, 12.8% in Engineering.
  • Research funding has increased by 3.59% annually since 2016, a full percentage point under the national growth rate of 4.72%, though Illinois has held steady in 10th place among all states.
  • Illinois has marginally outpaced national growth in S&E research space and moved up from 6th to 5th overall.
  • Higher education research funding increases have achieved results as well, university patents went up to 302 in 2020, also a record high.

Federal Labs

  • Argonne’s research activity reached a record high in 2020 at $859 million, a $49 million increase over the 2019 level.
  • Argonne was among the top FFRDCs in the nation, with $14.9 million in business partnerships in 2020, which was 1.7% of Argonne funding.
  • Fermilab has continued to decrease its federal funding, with a loss of 3.67% of funding annually since its record high in 2011.
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2022 - R&D Index

Illinois' R&D Landscape and How COVID-19 Impacted Innovation

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2020- R&D Index

Illinois' Capacity for Innovation & Economic Growth

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2019 - R&D Index

Illinois' R&D Landscape & Path Forward

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2018 - R&D Index

R&D growth struggles to match peer states, but machinery, finance & insurance among bright spots.

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2017 - R&D Index

New analysis finds slow R&D growth in Illinois, despite key academic and business areas of strength.

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2015 - R&D Index

Analysis finds alignment between federal funding for academic science and technology R&D, research quality, and output in Illinois.

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2014 - R&D Index

R&D expenditures by Illinois universities hold steady

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2013 - R&D Index

Capital and infrastructure for innovation

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