Research & Development


From 2017 to 2018, R&D spending remained virtually unchanged.

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


Research and development (R&D) spending is an indicator of the level of innovation in an economy, an important driver of economic growth. In 2018, Maine’s total R&D spending was $527 million, up slightly from $520 million in 2017.

R&D spending in Maine represents 0.8% of total gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 2.8% nationwide. This ranks us 43rd of the 50 states and is about one-half of the estimated 1.7% 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 higher proportion of spending.

Maine’s lack of an R1* research university contributes to this situation. To address this, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees recently prioritized the expansion of R&D across the system. In 2020, the University of Maine’s R&D expenditures reached $165.1 million, a record high. These gains may improve Maine’s overall R&D ranking in future years.

Fig. A

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Total R&D Spending as Percent of Gross Domestic Product

Camoin Associates, National Science Foundation, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, University of Maine