University research enterprise continues to grow

Glass windows on the side of a building

The University of Minnesota’s research enterprise continues to grow, driven by greater diversification of funding sources and enhanced public-private partnership.

At today’s Board of Regents meeting, Vice President for Research Brian Herman delivered this message as part of his annual Status of University Research and Commercialization of Intellectual Property report. The report summarized the U’s research metrics for the 2016 fiscal year, documenting trends in research productivity, scholarship and technology commercialization. It also noted the progress of strategic priorities that build the University’s research strength and work to eliminate barriers to research success.

Here are five highlights from this year’s report:

1. Funding awards at record levels
In FY2016, University faculty and staff competed successfully for a record $788 million in externally sponsored research funding, up $13 million (4.5 percent) from FY2015 and a record amount, when excluding one-time federal stimulus funds.

2. U continues to diversify its awards base
While federal funding stayed relatively flat from FY2015 to FY2016 (up 0.6 percent), the University’s research portfolio continued a decade-long trend of diversifying its funding sources, with non-federal sources increasing their share of the awards pie.

3. Business and industry support remains strong
Among nonfederal sources, business and industry funding grew 3.6 percent to $80.8 million, on top of last year’s 40 percent increase. Success with business and industry funding, which now accounts for 10 percent of all awards, aligned with three significant public-private partnership strategies: the MnDRIVE partnership with the state, the Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP) program for licensing technology and the Corporate Engagement Workgroup, which manages and coordinates relationships with companies across the University’s many colleges and units.

4. U remains 8th among public universities
According to the latest data from the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey, the U of M maintained its rank of eighth among public research institutions in FY2015, posting over $880 million in research expenditures. The U remains ranked third in expenditures among Big Ten institutions.

5. Technology commercialization and economic development efforts thrive
The University’s Office for Technology Commercialization launched a record 17 startup companies in 2016, and passed a milestone of 100 startups launched since 2006. Those startups have raised in aggregate over $219 million in investment capital, three-fourths of them have been based in Minnesota and 82 percent of the startups still active today — well above the national average. Additionally, two startups, Innotronics and Minnepura Technologies, were named among the 35 “Best University Startups 2016.”

Meanwhile, the Office of University Economic Development  launched a three-year strategic action plan to expedite accesses to U of M resources, act statewide, in both greater Minnesota and the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, and catalyze economic development through increased partnerships. UED also responded to 166 online “Front Door Requests” that contained inquiries about collaborating with the University, including from a significant number of Fortune 500 companies. The office hosted 63 business and community partner visits to the University and made 70 on-site visits to business and community partners, over a quarter of them in Greater Minnesota.

See more from the FY2016 annual report.