The term research funding can be used to describe any kind of funding for a project. The research usually refers to an area of science, which may be a hard science, or social science. It can also refer to research into technology. Research funding agencies are set up by governments, foundations or corporations, and determine who will be allocated funds.
Research funding agencies generally only have limited funds available, and the competition is extremely fierce. The total amount of research funding in developed countries rarely exceeds 1.5% to 3% of gross domestic product.
Over two thirds of research and development in scientific and technical fields is carried out by industry research funding agencies and government research funding agencies. Industries carry out about 20% of the research, with the remaining 10% being funded by governments and universities.
Government research funding agencies in the United States spend more than any other country on military research and development, at just under 20%. Some of this research takes place in public institutions, but much is carried out by the large defense contractors. The defense contractors can then sell the results to the government, with the understanding research costs will be recouped by the government. This is still a lot lower than the amount the government research funding agencies spend on medical research, which is around 35%.
Other areas of scientific research are conducted by charitable foundations. These research funding agencies fund work on major diseases, such as cancer, aids and malaria. The amounts of money are small in comparison to other agencies.
Research funding agencies that fund work in universities tend to allocate funds for scientific research into fields like physics and geology. They may also fund research projects in social sciences and history. They do not necessarily expect to obtain any commercially viable results from this type of research, as it is more about creating potential for further research and gaining publication in academic journals.
Anyone looking to obtain a grant from a research funding agency needs to write a good proposal. The agency will have its own guidelines, and it is worth reading them carefully and following them as closely as possible.
The research funding agency may read hundreds of grant proposals so the application has to grab their attention immediately. It needs to clearly set out what the research hopes to achieve, and why the research is important. It needs to say how it will be achieved and the total cost. The reader should be able to grasp all these facts from the first page. It is best to give the proposal to as many people as possible for their criticism.