ANN ARBOR—The total volume of research at the University of Michigan reached $1.39 billion in the fiscal year that closed June 30, 2016, a 7.2 percent increase from the previous year and a new record high.
"As one of the largest and most diverse research universities in the world, U-M plays a significant role both in generating a steady stream of innovative ideas and in educating the people that together underlie the nation's economic success and quality of life," said S. Jack Hu, U-M vice president for research. "The growing investment in U-M research is a measure of the continuing confidence of our sponsors in the value that our faculty and students bring to society."
About two thirds of the total volume of research at U-M is conducted under contract with the various federal agencies. Much of this year's growth came from the Department of Health and Human Services, where expenditures rose by 6 percent to $467 million.
Funding from the National Science Foundation increased by 8.6 percent to $86 million, and support from the Department of Defense was up by 7.8 percent to $80.5 million. At the same time, expenditures under contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration rose by 19.5 percent, to $52 million, and funds from the Department of Energy were up by 4.3 percent to $40 million.
The volume of research sponsored by industry has also grown. Total expenditures from industry sources amounted to a record high of $85 million in FY 2016, up 8.5 percent from the previous year.
"Industry plays a vital role in university research," Hu said. "Working with industry not only helps us translate the results of our research into practice, but it also helps us better prepare our students for the challenges they will face in their future careers."
The investment in research at U-M often leads to ideas with potential in the marketplace. U-M researchers reported 428 new inventions last year—the fourth straight year over 400—and 135 patents were issued. The Office of Technology Transfer also signed a record 173 license and option agreements with companies seeking to commercialize U-M discoveries. In addition, U-M's Tech Transfer Venture Center launched 12 startups based on U-M developed technology.
Among the major developments in research in the last year was the opening of Mcity, a full-scale "mini-city" designed expressly to rigorously and efficiently test emerging technologies for connected and automated vehicles—including driverless vehicles—in a safe, controlled environment.
U-M also launched the Data Science Initiative, an investment of up to $100 million to explore and develop the potential of "big data." In addition to expanding faculty and advanced computing resources, the initiative is supporting interdisciplinary data-related research in four key areas: learning analytics, transportation, health and social sciences.