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Research and Innovation

NC State Shows Top Gains in Federal Research Expenditures

Student working in chemistry lab.
NC State grows federal research expenditures by nearly 65% over a decade. Photo by Marc Hall.

A new report from the National Science Foundation shows that NC State increased its federal research expenditures by nearly 65% from 2010-19 – percentage gains that outperformed all but one of its peers – and ranked first among all institutions in research and development financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

NC State grew its federal research expenditures to $228.9 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year, while total research expenditures for FY19 grew to $541.1 million.

Federal funding for university research grew at a 19% clip over the decade, the NSF’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey showed. Sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, the report examines research spending at U.S. academic institutions. Its newest report, released in late January, provides a snapshot of U.S. research funding over the last reported fiscal year and the past decade.

Among NC State’s 12 peer universities, only Georgia Tech increased federal research expenditures by more than NC State’s 64.5%; federal research expenditures there grew by 92% over the decade, according to the report.

All but three of NC State’s peers have a medical school of some kind; their R&D expenditure totals include both non-medical-school and medical-school expenditures.

NC State ranked third in R&D expenditures funded by industry and sixth in R&D expenditures among all public universities without a medical school, according to the report.

Mladen Vouk, vice chancellor for research and innovation at NC State, said the university’s vibrant research culture and its capacity to institute powerful partnerships and interactions with industry – as well as federal, state and local governments – helped propel growth in research funding.

He cited a number of university priorities as critical to the sustained research growth over the decade. They include an emphasis on diversifying NC State’s research portfolio through new initiatives such as plant sciences, data sciences and cybersecurity, and collaborations with sponsors like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense.

Vouk also cited strong university programs that assist faculty with research proposal development and provide mentoring, as well as seed funding mechanisms for both research and technology transfer as other critical priorities.

Vouk noted that the most recent commercialization data (FY2019) by the Association of University Technology Managers ranked NC State fourth among all universities for startups launched, and eighth among all universities for licenses.

“Research and development of new knowledge, tools and technologies, as well as commercialization of intellectual property, remains a critical part of NC State’s DNA, especially through periods of uncertainty like we’ve seen in the past decade,” Vouk said. “We have made strategic decisions that have allowed NC State’s research programs to thrive. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and look forward to continued growth and success.”

-kulikowski-

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