News Release

U of M celebrates record year for research investments and technology commercialization

Two scientists examine a specimen together inside a research lab
Researchers examined a lab specimen, a snapshot of the daily work at America's leading research universities

The University of Minnesota’s annual research and development (R&D) expenditures exceeded $1 billion for the first time in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, the most recent year with available data. This landmark achievement that will be among several highlights presented to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents during next week’s Board meetings.

Total R&D expenditures are a common barometer for comparing research operations at higher education institutions. The $1.013 billion in research expenditures at the University’s Twin Cities campus in FY19 ranks tenth among all U.S. public research universities, according to preliminary data submitted for the National Science Foundation’s HERD Survey. When all University of Minnesota campuses were combined, total research expenditures were $1.04 billion. Over the last five years, the University has experienced continuous and steady growth in R&D activity and impact, maintaining its strong standing as one of America’s leading research universities. 

The vast majority of University spending on R&D comes from externally sponsored, competitively awarded funding. University scholars attract funding from nearly all federal agencies, with the research-oriented National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation leading the agency list. Sponsored research explores a vast array of topics, from the critical basic research necessary to advance fields of study to the more applied or clinical research that may have immediate, practical use. A recent example in the latter category has been addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, University researchers have received more than 125 sponsored research awards related to the coronavirus and COVID-19. 

“With an agility that inspired all of us, the University’s research enterprise quickly shifted work toward addressing the coronavirus pandemic, investigating how it enters cells, how it disperses in indoor spaces, and what clinical interventions can best treat infected people. Our researchers created innovations that included new testing techniques, the Coventor ventilator, a protective aerosol hood, and an artificial intelligence tool to help physicians analyze lung X-Rays, among many other new ideas,” said Christopher J. Cramer, the U of M’s vice president for research, “They’ve delivered Minnesota-made solutions that have improved the lives of many, and they’ve been diligent themselves in strict adherence to the safety protocols required to maintain the University’s continued, robust research enterprise all the while. Our researchers deserve our enormous gratitude for their creativity, resilience, and commitment to safety.”

In addition to celebrating a banner year in R&D expenditures, the annual research report to the Board will also profile the continued strength of the University’s technology commercialization efforts—initiatives that deliver the University’s technology and discoveries directly to citizens and consumers, including those related directly to COVID-19. The University’s work continues to earn U.S. patents at a rate few universities around the world can match: the U of M is ranked 17th globally in this category. The University also produces startup companies at a similarly impressive pace, with 19 startups launched last year. This brings the University’s startup company total to 170 since FY2006, with approximately three-fourths of these companies headquartered in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Discovery Launchpad, a business incubator for U of M startups, had 18 participants last year, fostering entrepreneurship among University researchers and supporting an array of future possible startups in the pipeline.

As part of its December meetings, the Board is also expected to:

  • Act on a revised recommendation from President Joan Gabel for the University’s 2021 State Capital Request and the University’s FY21 Capital Improvement Budget.
  • Hear a report from the President’s Finance and Operations Work Group regarding current operations and considerations for the future as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the University operations.
  • Discuss guiding principles for future campus master planning for the Twin Cities campus and across the system.
  • Hear a report on student career readiness initiatives and outcomes of this work, along with ideas for how it can be amplified in the future.
  • Review proposed progress measures aligned with MPact 2025, the University’s systemwide strategic plan.
  • Review the 2020 University Performance and Accountability Report.
  • Discuss public safety on and around the Twin Cities campus in an update from University of Minnesota Police Chief Matt Clark.

For more information, including future meeting times, visit

Media Contacts

Jake Ricker

University Public Relations
Fri, 12/04/2020 - 14:22
U of M celebrates record year for research investments and technology commercialization
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities