Colorado State University Hits New Record for Research Expenditures in 2008-2009

Colorado State University faculty received $312 million in competitive research support in fiscal year 2009, setting a new record for the university despite the economic downturn and increased competition for federal and private grant money.

For the first time in university history, faculty members submitted more than $1 billion in grant requests to public and private institutions, which was a 47.3 percent increase over 2008.

“Our researchers earn the confidence of government agencies and private-sector sponsors because they are innovative and they share that desire to improve our world – finding real solutions to real problems – with their students,” said Tony Frank, president of Colorado State University. “Record levels of research expenditures, when looked at collectively, help to illustrate the excellence of our faculty and the immense potential for discovery at a premier land-grant research university like Colorado State.”

Research support for 2009 — public and private money competitively awarded and expended for research and scholarly activities — increased 3 percent over 2008 and 39 percent over the past five years, according to new figures released today by Colorado State’s Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Engagement.

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.

“A variety of factors have contributed to the increase in grant applications including faculty productivity, submission of large-scale multidisciplinary projects, globalization, and the initial release of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act solicitations,” said Bill Farland, the university’s senior vice president for Research and Engagement.

The Supercluster concept at the university is also resulting in increased faculty competition as scientists seek seed grants leading to larger scale awards, Farland said. The Supercluster technology-transfer model pairs CSU faculty in areas of academic strength with industry experts who help gauge market timing for new products in those areas. The first three Superclusters are in clean energy, infectious disease and cancer.

Since the Superclusters were created starting in 2006, Colorado State faculty members have more than doubled the number of invention disclosures – detailed descriptions of inventions –filed with the university’s technology transfer office. Invention disclosures have more than doubled to 91 in FY 2008 from 42 in FY 2006, according to the Colorado State University Research Foundation. As of the end of June, faculty had exceeded 100 invention disclosures in FY 2009.

“My congratulations to the faculty on their record-setting number of proposals and awards,” Farland said. “Our scientists are helping to feed the Supercluster pipeline along with advancing important science.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to the university has increased 63 percent since 2004 largely because the organization promotes sustainable agriculture, resource management, domestic and global research on food security, and trade in the foreign market programs – a good fit with Colorado State’s areas of research expertise. CSU research expenditures sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense have increased 53 percent and 52 percent respectively since 2004.

As in 2009, expenditures of federal research funding in 2008 made up the majority of the sponsored expenditures, totaling $217 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the largest source of external funding in 2009 – the second year in a row. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services held that position for the previous seven consecutive years.

State, foundation, commercial and other non-federal expenditures made up $51.6 million of Colorado State’s total research expenditures.

Average award dollars received by faculty within Colorado State’s eight colleges have grown 81 percent since 2004. Faculty submitted a record 2,182 proposals for external competitive funding in 2008 – up 13 percent over 2007 and 45 percent over the past five years. The average research expenditures per tenured faculty member also has increased in recent years – to $322,025 in 2009 from $288,000 in 2006, or a 12 percent increase.

Colorado State University Research Expenditures Over the Past Five Years
Year Total R&D Expenditures in Millions (Percent increase over previous year in parentheses)
2004 $224 (11)
2005 $244 ( 9)
2006 $267 ( 9)
2007 $296 (11)
2008 $303 ( 2)
2009 $312 (3)