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Phila. region benefits from $10.5 billion in R&D spending

Select Greater Philadelphia estimates that the region is among the top 5 in the nation in terms of R&D spending.

Anyone who has spent some time in the Philadelphia area knows that it has a big footprint in brainy activities that require spending on research and development.

But until now, it's been a little difficult to put an overall figure of just how much is spent on R&D in the region.

Select Greater Philadelphia estimates the amount at $10.5 billion, or 2.9 percent of Philadelphia's gross regional product.

A report released Thursday by the economic development marketing organization said that level of spending -- by both private industry, academia and government sources -- places the region among the top five nationally. Boston and New York ranked higher, while Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles placed below Philadelphia.

The ranking should come as no surprise. After all, Philadelphia is a big beneficiary of annual spending by the National Institutes of Health, with the University of Pennsylvania alone receiving $577 million in 2010. Plus, with its high concentration of large pharmaceutical companies, it stands to reason that some of Big Pharma's billions spent on R&D flow to local operations.

Still, the statistical analysis does reveal that the R&D spending locally encompasses more than just the life sciences.

Phil Hopkins, Select Greater Philadelphia's vice president of research, said there are significant amounts of R&D spending by the region's chemical, telecommunications, software and industrial instrument firms. In all, private industry accounted for 85 percent of all R&D spending.

Here's a link to the executive summary of the report.