The University of Michigan announced it received $1.58 billion in annual research volume during fiscal year 2021 (FY21) despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing rapid nationwide declines in academic research productivity.
Of that total, the university reported a record $893 million in federally sponsored research expenditures across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses, along with a slight uptick in research awards to 1,949. Overall, research spending declined only 2.3 percent.
“Our research community has experienced a series of challenges that none of us could have ever predicted,” says Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and the William G. Barsan collegiate professor of emergency medicine at U-M.
“And yet because of their tremendous commitment and expertise, the University of Michigan continued to develop and implement solutions to critical issues ranging from climate change and firearm violence to driverless vehicle technology and systemic racism.”
The National Institute of Health (NIH) remains the largest external sponsor, with $574 million awarded by the federal agency to address the causes of and treatments for a variety of medical ailments including cancer, dementia, substance abuse, and coronaviruses. This is a $2 million decrease from last year’s NIH spending — less than 1 percent.
Research spending on awards from the National Science Foundation increased by 8 percent to $98 million during FY21. And U-M research expenditures funded by the Department of Energy increased by nearly 7 percent to $42 million.
Industry also sponsored several innovative U-M research projects during FY21, totaling $109 million — a 4 percent decrease from FY20, which is largely due to COVID-related budget concerns that impacted corporate partners nationwide.
The university temporarily restricted the use of institutional funds for research and scholarship purposes due to the pandemic, and as a result, research spending from university investments dropped 5 percent to $521 million. University research spending supports research-related infrastructure and equipment and aids in sparking multidisciplinary initiatives.
U-M continued its efforts in translation and commercialization to allow more to benefit from the innovations made on campus. The result was 23 startups, 502 inventions, and a record 287 license and option agreements with companies seeking to commercialize discoveries.
“As it has for more than 200 years, Michigan research triumphed,” says Mark Schlissel, president of U-M. “I commend the faculty of the University of Michigan for their dedication to research excellence during such a difficult time.
“Their work creates incomparable levels of knowledge and understanding for our society and provides an incredible return for the people of our state and nation who support public research universities.”