What a year it has been for the University of Arizona’s (UA) research enterprise. With the launch of OSIRIS-REx on its way to return a sample from asteroid Bennu and the selection to be the first cohort of four leading university teams to initiate the national Precision Medicine Initiative, UA R&D is leading the way to new discoveries, innovative application, and commercialization in the marketplace.
Our research activity, measured by Total Research and Development (R&D) Expenditures, increased by approximately $18 million from the year prior, to $606 million – exceeding our ABOR annual target. Other indicators of research activity are up, too. More researchers are successfully winning awards. The number of proposals have increased to record highs. More researchers collaborating and securing larger awards.
Our discoveries and innovative applications made national and global headlines. From debunking a popular myth about the origins of AIDS in the US to proudly seeing the work of one of our students who discovered the remains of water on Mars. The University of Arizona continues to be a research leader among our peers, a top 25 public research university among the 398 ranked.
To grow this pipeline of success, we have invested additional resources and developed new programs to help our early career faculty to successfully navigate some of the most prestigious awards, such as the National Science Foundation Early Career Award. It’s a tactic that has already shown great promise, with these awards at a record high.
Our strategy to grow our partnerships with industry also is delivering early results. We established a Strategic Business Initiatives division to act as a front door and full-service relationship “concierge” for industry partners. With this approach, UA has realized several master agreements with strategic partners. 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. Our leadership in this area supports the economic development of Arizona hi-tech business.
In FY2016, we opened our Water & Energy Sustainable Technology Center, a unique pilot-scale facility where industry, state/county utility professionals and academic researchers work together shoulder-to-shoulder to find solutions to one of our grandest challenges – water scarcity. The UA is optimizing the use and reuse of our most precious of natural resource in our arid environment, water, with industry partners large and small, from Dow Chemical and to local start-ups.
Fundamentally, our research impact is driven by the novel discoveries, innovative application and commercialization into the marketplace by our faculty and students. UA is answering the bigger questions – creating the tools and solutions that deliver public benefit and strengthen industry.
Ann Weaver Hart