Basic Science Investment Improves U.S. Global Competitiveness

Federal investment in scientific discovery and technology is vital to maintaining U.S. economic leadership globally and in growing key emerging sectors such as clean energy

Basic Science Investment Improves U.S. Competitiveness


Basic science is the foundation of innovation and involves “theoretical or experimental investigative research to advance knowledge without a specifically known or immediately practical application. It is the quest for new knowledge and the exploration of the unknown.”1 Such studies fuel the future of research and development (R&D), demonstration, and deployment of new energy technologies. Promotion of early stage exploration activities can unlock the discovery of new materials and processes, contributing to breakthroughs in various industries, including the capture of energy from renewable resources.

The U.S. Department of Energy has long been a sponsor of research to strengthen U.S. competitiveness in innovative energy technologies. In recent years, however, the agency has faced increased competition  for funding. Since the mid-1990s, energy investments have accounted for only 1 percent of the government’s R&D budget. By comparison, defense has received almost half of federal research monies nearly every year, and health has consumed 20 to 25 percent.2 If the U.S. is to maintain its leadership role in the clean energy arena, enhanced federal investment in the sector is critical.

Read the full fact sheet (PDF)


  1. International Council for Science, “The Value of Basic Scientific Research,” December 2004,
  2. J.J. Dooley, “U.S. Federal Investments in Energy R&D: 1961-2008,” U.S. Department of Energy,

National Homeownership Month


37 Researchers Working to Transform Biomedical Science

Quick View

Biomedical researchers are on the front lines of scientific innovation. From responding to global pandemics to pioneering lifesaving cancer treatments, these researchers push past scientific boundaries to solve pressing health challenges. For nearly 40 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported more than 1,000 early-career biomedical scientists committed to this discovery.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.