Colorado State University Sets New Record, Exceeds $300 Million in Annual Research Expenditures

Note to Editors: A breakdown of funding is available with the news release at

Colorado State University’s commitment to research helped push the university’s research expenditures to nearly $303 million in fiscal year 2008 – a new record for the university at a time when competition for federal funding is at an all-time high.

Annual research expenditures in 2008 totaled a record high of $302.6 million, which was $6.6 million more than the previous year and an increase of 35 percent over the past five years, according to new figures released today by Colorado State’s Office of the Vice President for Research.

The university has climbed near the top of the rankings in terms of research dollars: In 2007, CSU ranked 16th nationally for R&D expenditures for major universities that do not also have a medical school – a feat accomplished with far fewer faculty than most other universities.

"Colorado State faculty members continue to earn the confidence of government agencies and private-sector sponsors because they are highly productive with their funding in comparison with their peers," said Larry Edward Penley, president of Colorado State, who has overseen the significant growth in research expenditures since he joined the university in August 2003. "Colorado State conducts vital research addressing some of the world’s most challenging problems such as viable alternative energy sources, new treatments for cancer and potential vaccines for diseases such as dengue fever and drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis."

U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to the university has increased 54 percent since 2004. CSU research expenditures sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NASA and the National Science Foundation have increased 26 percent, 31 percent and 44 percent respectively since 2004.

As in 2007, expenditures of federal research funding in 2008 comprised the majority of the sponsored expenditures, totaling $214.9 million or 71 percent of the 2008 total. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the largest source of external funding in 2008, exceeding  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which held that position for seven consecutive years.

One of the most significant increases in USDA funding went to the Colorado State Forest Service. The bulk of Health and Human Services funding, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, goes to the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for critical research into vaccines, control mechanisms and cures for growing global diseases such as tuberculosis and dengue fever. Growth in Health and Human Services funding has flattened because of completion of funding for construction of the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, accounting for almost $21 million in funding over the last three years.

State, foundation, commercial and other non-federal expenditures comprised $43.4 million or 14 percent of Colorado State’s total research expenditures, with institutional support funds adding another $44.3 million or 15 percent.

With federal funding declining nationally, other public and private partners are filling the void, said Bill Farland, vice president for Research at Colorado State.  Colorado State University attributes its increase in research expenditures to its highly productive faculty and a strategic approach to growing its programs.  Building on state of Colorado legislation, Colorado State University is a founding member of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, which is a partnership with CU-Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to commercialize clean energy research.

"The environment created by our partners in the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, for example, nurtures growth in research expenditures for us and our partners at the other major research universities and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory," Farland said. "Many of these joint efforts are enabling Colorado – and Colorado State University – to compete more effectively. CU-Boulder also released record funding levels this year, which is a testament to the strength of our partners and their contribution to Colorado’s economic prosperity."

This summer, Colorado State also reinforced its commitment to building environmental awareness and Colorado’s workforce by announcing a new School of Global Environmental Sustainability. The school will streamline environmental research and programs across the entire campus to ensure every student has broad training for the emerging green workforce.

Colorado State is a member of the board of directors of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC that recently was awarded the management and operation contract for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  This provides further opportunity to develop new and enhance existing research relationships with NREL in specific areas that match the strengths of the Colorado State University.  

Additionally, last fall, the university unveiled Cenergy, a first-of-its-kind enterprise to speed the transition of clean energy research from the academic world into the global marketplace. Cenergy is the enterprise arm of one of three "Superclusters" at the university – alliances of academic researchers, economists and business experts designed to encourage collaboration and bridge the vastly different worlds of business and academia. The university also has MicroRx to assist in commercialization of the outcome of  infectious disease research and NeoTrex for cancer research.

"With the Supercluster model, we are taking the entrepreneurial guesswork out of the equation," Farland said. "Scientists can focus on innovating, while other experts move the product to market, allowing groundbreaking research to help resolve real-world concerns more quickly."

Average award dollars received by faculty within Colorado State’s eight colleges have grown 28 percent since 2004. Faculty submitted a record 1,924 proposals for external competitive funding in 2008 – up seven percent over 2007 and 28 percent over the past five years. The average award per tenured faculty member also has increased in recent years – to $311,000 in 2008 from $288,000 in 2006.

The university also experienced significant funding increases in 2008 from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. Annual research expenditures from other non-federal sources and industrials also grew.

Colorado State University Research Expenditures Over the Past 5 Years

Year     Total R&D Expenditures in Millions (Percent increase over previous year in parentheses)

2003     $202     ( 2)

2004     $224     (11)

2005     $244     ( 9)

2006     $267     ( 9)

2007     $296     (11)

2008      $303     ( 2)