Research funding is a term generally covering any funding for scientific research, in the areas of natural science, technology, and social science. The term often connotes funding obtained through a competitive process, in which potential research projects are evaluated and only the most promising receive funding.
Most research funding comes from two major sources, corporations (through research and development departments) and government (primarily carried out through universities and specialized government agencies; often known as research councils). A smaller amount of scientific research is funded by charitable foundations, especially in relation to developing cures for diseases such as cancer, malaria, and AIDS.
According to OECD, more than 60% of research and development in scientific and technical fields is carried out by industry, and 20% and 10% respectively by universities and government.
Comparatively, in countries with less GDP such as Portugal and Mexico, the industry contribution is significantly lower. The government funding proportion in certain industries is higher, and it dominates research in social science and humanities. In commercial research and development, all but the most research-oriented corporations focus more heavily on near-term commercialization possibilities rather than “blue-sky” ideas or technologies.