Research by the Numbers

December 31, 2015
An up-close view of a molecule model

It’s been another terrific year for research and the commercialization of intellectual property at the University of Minnesota—critical drivers of the U’s mission and our state’s economy. Here is a look at 10 accomplishments and trends for fiscal year 2015.

1. Funding Awards at Record Levels. In FY2015, University of Minnesota faculty and staff garnered $754 million in externally sponsored research, up $13 million (1.8%) from the previous year, continuing a sustained trajectory of growth.

2. Up to No. 8 in Research Expenditures. The U maintained its top-10 ranking and moved up from ninth to eighth among public research institutions, posting over $877 million in research expenditures.

3. The U Remains Third in Big Ten. Within the Big Ten, the U of M continues to rank third in externally sponsored research funding, maintaining its position at the top of an elite group of public universities.

4. Business & Industry Support for Research Up 40%. The category of Business and Industry funding saw the largest increase of research awards, reaching an all-time high of $78 million, up 41.3% from last year.

5. Public-Private Partnerships. The increases in Business and Industry funding are attributable in part to two recently launched U of M public-private partnership: Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP) and the Corporate Engagement Workgroup (CEW), both of which aim to facilitate and strengthen industry partnerships and increase commercialization of U of M inventions.

6. Leveraging MnDRIVE Investments. In the first two years of the MnDRIVE initiative, $34.5 million has been authorized for more than 210 projects involving 629 researchers across the University. U researchers have leveraged $57 million in state, federal, and private funding to further advance research in MnDRIVE’s four core areas.

7. Strong Growth in Technology Commercialization. New technology licenses were up significantly, from 154 the previous year to 268.  A record 16 startup companies were also launched in FY2015.

8. Diversifying the Research Portfolio. Although the U’s federal funding level was down 5.5% from last year, diversification of our research portfolio has been key to supporting the research mission. The U’s increase in new sources of nonfederal funding in recent years reflects our researchers’ success at developing alternative funding streams.

9. Internal Grant Funding Yields Real ROI. OVPR awarded $108 million in research funding across the U’s colleges and campuses over the last five years. The ROI via external funding has been high for many of these grants.

10. Convergence Colloquia = Research Engagement. Convergence Colloquia are a new series of daylong, multi-disciplinary gatherings. Four colloquia in the past year engaged more than 340 participants from across the University as well as state and local agencies, nonprofits, and private companies.