U of M sponsored research awards down 7.5 %, but trend is still upward

Nice while it lasted (MPR Photo / Alex Friedrich)

Sponsored research funding for the University of Minnesota declined 7.5 percent last year, according to a university report that regents are scheduled to discuss today.

The $56 million drop, to $693 million, was driven in part by the phaseout of federal stimulus money. U officials say the decline was also due to the lingering effects of the recession, federal disinvestment in basic research, and sequestration.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the U got $749,000 in stimulus money, compared to a peak of $131 million in 2010, when the U reach a high of $823 million in total research funding.

But U officials stress that the overall trend since 2009 is upward. During the five years of stimulus funding — from 2009 to 2013 — non-stimulus money still rose 21.6 percent.

During that period, the U was second behind the University of Michigan in the total amount of stimulus money received by a consortium of 15 universities including the Big Ten.

Gross revenues from the commercialization of technology were down last year almost 14 percent to $39.5 million. The number of revenue-generating agreements was down 22 percent.

The revenue figure is down by a wide margin from a five-year peak of $95.2 million in 2009.

But the U posted a record 14 startup companies, just over the dozen launched the previous year.

Other areas were also up, such as invention disclosures, U.S. patent filings and new licenses.

The U slipped from eighth place to ninth among public research universities in National Science Foundation funding, according to 2012 data, which is the most recent available.

U officials say that’s because one university in the rankings, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, changed how it calculated its funding totals.

Seventy percent of federal research funding came from the National institute of Health and National Science Foundation.

In the spring, the U will issue a report on how it stacks up against peer universities in various research funding measures.