Our research activity, measured by Total Research and Development (R&D) Expenditures, has grown to more than $606 million – exceeding our ABOR annual target.

Our research activity, measured by total research and development (R&D) expenditures, has grown to more than $606 million – exceeding our FY 2016 Enterprise Plan target. R&D expenditures reflect the last step in the research life cycle – executing projects. Other indicators of R&D success are increasing as well. Proposals submitted and R&D awards have increased 14 percent and 25 percent, respectively, since the implementation of the university’s strategic plan. The number of principal investigators with an active award is up by nearly 60 – reflecting increasing success of our researchers in the competitive national arena. In the latest National Science Foundation's annual Higher Education Research and Development Survey, the University of Arizona ranked 21st among the 515 public research institutions and 34th among all 906 universities surveyed.

UA continues to focus on innovation as a cornerstone of its strategic plan. Therein, we have identified key opportunities for targeted R&D growth: translational biomedicine; defense and security; space systems, optics and imaging; water, energy and the arid environment; and informatics.

UA was selected in the first cohort (along with Columbia University Medical Center, Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh) to be awarded the single largest competitive National Institutes of Health (NIH) award in Arizona’s history, as a part of the Precision Medicine Initiative. Precision medicine is a revolutionary approach that will transform clinical medicine by developing targeted prevention and treatment based on people’s individual differences in genetics, environment and lifestyle. Our new NIH R&D total awards has increased 104 percent in value to $121.8 million since the implementation of the university’s strategic plan.

The UA, bolstered by its lead role in the OSIRIS-REx mission, ranked second in physical sciences research activity among all of the research universities (public and private) surveyed, supported by our top (#1) ranking in astronomy and #20 in physics R&D activity. Our newly established Defense & Security Research Institute, which applies our physical sciences research expertise to a different sector, has experienced early success, evidenced by a 200 percent increase in new R&D awards from the Department of Defense.

Research is on an upward trajectory in large part because of the UA's collaborative culture and its innovative external partnerships. The number of interdisciplinary, cross-college collaborative awards increased 25 percent since FY 2014 and UA was ranked 55th most collaborative university in the annual Nature Index. The UA also leads the executive team of American Institute for Manufacturing Innovation and serves as the chair of the Technical Review Board of AIM Photonics — one of the National Manufacturing Initiatives, which also includes industry heavyweights such as Intel, Cisco, IBM, General Electric and Hewlett-Packard.

Increased R&D activity provides new economic development opportunity and contributes to the business vibrancy of Arizona. The commercialization of research ideas into useful products, technologies and therapeutics is the platform for launching new companies and advancing business competitiveness through licensing that supports collaborative solutions to better our community and our state.