Oregon State University crossed the $400 million threshold in grants and contracts for the first time in the fiscal year that ended June 30, including being awarded a grant to build a $122 million regional research vessel.
Oregon State received $441 million from state and federal governments, businesses and foundations for research on a wide range of projects in natural resources, health, engineering and science across the state and around the world. Federal agencies provided $315 million (71 percent), and additional funds came from state agencies, businesses and foundations.
“OSU research spurs solutions to problems and serves and involves people, communities and businesses across the state and world,” said Cynthia Sagers, OSU vice president for research. “Investment in research affects our daily lives — the food we eat, health care, the environment — and pays back dividends in economic growth for Oregonians. Researchers are starting new businesses and assisting established companies.”
Altogether, Oregon State’s research revenues leapt 31 percent over last year’s record-breaking total of $336 million. Over the past 10 years, OSU’s research revenues have more than doubled and exceed those of Oregon’s public universities combined.
OSU research totals surged in June with a $122 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a new regional research vessel, which will be stationed at the university’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. It was the largest single grant ever received by the university.
Revenues from business and industry — including technology testing, sponsored contracts and licensing of innovations developed at the university — grew to $34 million last year, up 10 percent from the previous year.
“Our latest success is the result of hard work and strategic decisions by our faculty and partners in business, local and state government and the federal delegation,” Sagers said.
Based on past OSU research, startup companies such as Agility Robotics (animal-like robot motion), Outset Medical (at-home kidney dialysis) and Inpria (photolithography for high-performance computer chips) are attracting private investment and creating jobs. Advances in agricultural crops (winter wheat, hazelnuts, small fruits and vegetables) and forest products (cross-laminated timber panels for high-rise construction) are bolstering rural economies as well.
Since it began in 2013, the Oregon State University Advantage program has provided market analysis and support services to more than 70 local technology businesses and start-up companies.
Other major grants last year included:
Up to $40 million by the U.S. Department of Energy for testing systems for ocean wave energy technologies;
$9 million for a next-generation approach to chemical manufacturing known as RAPID, in partnership with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory;
$6.5 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to make artificial-intelligence systems more trustworthy;
A combined $1.15 million in state, federal and foundation funding for a state-of-the-art instrument known as an X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy system. The XPS system brings world-class capabilities to the Pacific Northwest to address challenges in surface chemistry. Partners included the Murdock Charitable Trust, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center and the National Science Foundation.
“Whether it’s with the fishing and seafood industries on our coast, federal labs working on energy and the environment or local governments concerned about jobs and education, partnerships with business, government and other research organizations are absolutely vital to our work,” said Sagers. “We care about these relationships, the benefits they bring to our communities and the educational opportunities they create for our students.”
Research has long been a hallmark of graduate education, and undergraduate students are increasingly participating in research projects in all fields, from the sciences to engineering, health and liberal arts. OSU provided undergraduates with more than $1 million last year to support projects conducted under the mentorship of faculty members.
“Research is fundamental to President Ray’s Student Success Initiative,” said Sagers. “Studies show time and again that students who participate in research tend to stay in school, connect with their peers and find meaningful work after they graduate. Research is a key part of the educational process.”
Federal agencies represent the lion’s share of investment in OSU research. That investment has more than doubled in the last five years. The National Science Foundation provided the largest share of funding, followed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Energy.