The University of Minnesota received a record $793 million in awards for research in 2018, besting the previous annual record of $788 million set two years ago.

The yearly total continues the U’s consistent growth in research grants that began in 2009 when it received $602 million, according to the vice president’s Annual Report on Research and Technology Commercialization. Last year, the U reported receiving $744 million.

The data come with a couple of caveats. For one, the numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation. Also, the revenue doesn’t include federal stimulus money that flowed to the university system from 2010 to 2016.

Still, the news was mostly good, and the university maintained a strong ranking as a research institution. Federal contributions remained strong despite volatility in the upper levels of the U.S. government.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the U saw a 6.5 percent increase over the previous year that was driven by increases in federal and state awards (the university refers to the revenue as “external research funding” and awards).

Federal contributions were up 12.7 percent, and state awards rose by nearly 18 percent, according to the report from the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research.

Annual awards were up from the two largest sources of federal funding. Grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) rose by 9 percent, or $22 million, and National Science Foundation grants rose by 13 percent, or $9 million.

Overall, 51 percent of all fiscal 2018 research awards went to the U Medical School or other health sciences areas.

The U’s news release credited the school’s consistently strong grant revenue as the foundation of its ranking among the nation’s top research universities.

The university ranked ninth in the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Survey, a previously issued report considered the gold standard in higher education, according to U spokesman Dan Gilchrist.

That report said the U spent $922 million on research, or $948 million when all five campuses are included. The foundation report, however, covered the 2017 fiscal year, which started July 1, 2016 and ended June 30, 2017. That’s a year ahead of the university’s report on research revenue that was released Thursday.

Christopher Cramer, the U’s vice president for research, said in a prepared statement: “I am excited by the growth in our research enterprise and the potential it holds to bring about real-world impact through new ideas, technologies, treatments and cures.”

One of the most significant grants in the past year came from the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The U received $43 million for continued funding of its Clinical and Translational Science Institute to help researchers extend their discoveries into practical use on improving health. The money will be spread over five years, so only the first year was counted in this year’s revenue.

“Game-changing discoveries have been made at this university — we know how to do these things because we’ve done them before,” said Dr. Jakub Tolar, the U’s vice president for clinical affairs.

In the news release, the university touted its success in translating research into licensed commercial work that returns money to the school. A federal law sponsored by then Sens. Birch Bayh, D-Ind., and Bob Dole, R-Kan., and signed by President Jimmy Carter 38 years ago this month encourages universities to move research off the shelf and into practical application by steering to them a share of commercial profits.

The U’s Technology Commercialization program signed a record 230 new licensing deals in the recent fiscal year.


Twitter: @rochelleolson