The University of Minnesota announced today that it successfully competed for a record $793 million in external research funding in fiscal 2018, the highest amount received any year to date when one-time federal economic stimulus dollars are excluded.
The University’s external research portfolio grew by 6.5 percent over the previous year, with increases in federal (up 12.7 percent) and state (up 17.7 percent) awards driving the total, according to the fiscal 2018 Annual Report on Research and Technology Commercialization released by the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research.
The report also showed that the University remains among the top 10 US public research universities in research expenditures, according to the most recent National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Survey, which compared research expenditure data collected from FY 2017. The University’s Twin Cities campus expended $922 million on research, placing it ninth among public research universities in the NSF-HERD Survey. When combined, all five University of Minnesota campuses had research expenditures of $948 million.
The University also maintained its standing in two other widely accepted and cited ranking systems, the Center for Measuring University Performance (CMUP) and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), which rely on metrics that serve as a proxy for accomplishments and strength relative to the best performing research institutions in the country and the world.
“With nearly a billion dollars in research expenditures each year, the University of Minnesota continues to be among the leading American research universities, uncovering new knowledge and finding solutions to some of the most complex challenges facing society today,” said Christopher Cramer, Ph.D., the University’s vice president for research. “I am excited by the growth in our research enterprise and the potential it holds to bring about real-world impact through new ideas, technologies, treatments and cures. We owe this progress to our talented research faculty and staff, who embody the University’s spirit of inquiry—namely, that we are driven to discover.”
Awards from the University’s two largest sources of federal funding, the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, rose by $22 million (8.8 percent) and $9 million (12.5 percent) over the previous year, respectively. In fiscal 2018, the University received one of its largest federal grants ever from the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences: a pledged $42.6 million of continuation funding, to be distributed over five years, for the University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), which helps researchers and research professionals bring discoveries into clinical practice to improve human health.
Overall, 51 percent of all fiscal 2018 research awards were to the Medical School or other health sciences, underscoring the University’s broad strength across many biomedical and health disciplines.
“Game-changing discoveries have been made at this University—we know how to do these things because we’ve done them before,” said Jakub Tolar, MD, Ph.D., the University’s Vice President for Clinical Affairs. “The renewal of CTSI’s grant and our new partnership with Fairview are about harnessing the ability to advance medicine. We have an opportunity to build something here that makes Minnesotans proud and continues to fulfill the land-grant mission set forth by the University’s founders.”
The University continues to transfer research to licensee companies for the development of new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth, and generate revenue to support the University’s mission. U of M Technology Commercialization signed a record 230 new licensing deals and 86 new Minnesota Innovation Partnership agreements during fiscal 2018, and now holds a total of more than 900 issued patents and 1,800 active licenses. They also spun off 13 startup companies, with 27 others still moving through the University’s earlier startup pipeline.
As the state’s only major land-grant and research university, the University plays a key role in developing and supporting the state economy, contributing $1.2 billion in annual economic impact, according to a 2018 study by research firm Tripp Umbach. In addition to technologies developed through research, the University’s impact includes equipping students with the advanced education and hands-on research opportunities crucial for the state’s economic prosperity.
“Experience conducting research, a vital component of graduate education, and access to the latest in research infrastructure, provide our students with opportunities to develop, refine, and apply specialized skills that set them apart,” said Scott Lanyon, Ph.D., vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. “Participating in research even at the undergraduate level enhances students’ future careers and allows them to contribute to Minnesota’s economy by supporting, and in some cases creating, the industries that fuel our state.”
Cramer, the vice president for research, agreed. “Sometimes we are too quick to parse the different parts of the University’s mission,” he said. “When it comes to advanced undergraduates and graduate students, however, research is education, with our students learning most about cutting edge technologies and ideas when they are engaged directly in answering research questions.”
To view the 2018 Annual Report on Research and Technology Commercialization, visit https://z.umn.edu/ResearchAR.
- Science and Technology