Research & Development


In 2020, Maine’s R&D spending rose from 1.0% to 1.1% of GDP.

No significant movement since the last available data

Benchmark: Maine’s research and development spending as a proportion of the economy will reach the U.S average by 2030.

Overview Fig. A Fig. B


Research and development (R&D) spending is an indicator of the level of innovation in an economy, an important driver of economic growth. In 2020, Maine’s total R&D spending was $769 million, up 12% from the previous year.

R&D spending in Maine represents 1.1% of total gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 3.3% nationwide. This ranks Maine 44th of the 50 states and is about two-thirds of the 1.8% average among EPSCoR states. Maine lags other states in private sector and university R&D investments relative to GDP, while our non-profit sector contributes a relatively high proportion of spending.

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees has prioritized the expansion of R&D across the system. In 2021, the University of Maine’s R&D expenditures reached $179 million, a record high, and in 2022 the University of Maine earned an R1* top-tier research designation. These gains may improve Maine’s overall R&D ranking in future years.

*R1 refers to doctoral universities with “very high research activity,” as defined by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Fig. A

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Total R&D Spending as Percent of Gross Domestic Product

Camoin Associates

Fig. B

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Percent of GDP to R&D by Sector in 2020

Camoin Associates