Funding Increase Supports U-M’s Medical and Engineering Researchers

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Researchers are keeping busy at the University of Michigan, which spent $1.3 billion on research during fiscal year 2013, or 4.3 percent more than it had the year prior, according to a recent report. The schools and departments that received the most funding were U-M’s Medical School (43.3 percent); College of Engineering (15.5 percent); College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts (12.1 percent); and the Institute for Social Research (9 percent).

“University research has long been critical to the vitality and competitiveness of our nation’s economy,” Stephen R. Forrest, vice president for research, Forrest said in a release. “This growth at U-M reflects our sponsors’ continuing confidence in the value of this investment here.”

The university reports that funding from the state of Michigan increased more than six fold to $3.5 million, and that research grants and contracts from industry grew by 14 percent to a record $73 million.

Major grants finalized last year included a $28.4 million, five-year grant renewal for the U-M Cancer Center from the National Cancer Institute, and a $152 million, five-year grant from the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System. The latter will involve launching a network of eight satellites that will help with hurricane and extreme weather prediction.

Among the school’s top three sponsors were the National Institutes of Health ($509.7 million), National Science Foundation ($89.7 million), and Department of Defense ($74.1 million). However, although federal sponsorship —which grew by 2.8 percent — accounted for nearly 62 percent of the university’s total research volume, this might not hold true in future years. Under the federal Budget Control Act of 2011, the government mandated a 5.1 reduction in non-exempt non-defense discretionary funding. The effects of the cuts will become clear in the 2014 fiscal year.

“Any decline in federal research funding will cut back on our ability to train the next generation of researchers and innovators, and to generate new ideas with potential in the marketplace,” Forrest said. “This puts our nation at a competitive disadvantage, particularly when other nations are increasing their investments in university research.”

In other U-M news, the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and its Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business will host its eighth annual Michigan Private Equity Conference on Oct. 3-4. More than 200 private equity, investment banking, and business professionals are expected to attend the event, which will cover topics that pose challenges and new opportunities for those in private equity and institutional investing.

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