CORVALLIS, Ore. - Scientists at Oregon State University earned more than $206 million in research contracts and grants in 2006-07, while licensing income from technology transfer efforts brought in nearly $2.5 million, a significant increase from last year's total of $2.13 million, officials say.
The new figures demonstrate the resilience of the university's research efforts, which have faced funding and facilities challenges in recent years, as well as the impact of OSU's strategic initiatives, which have placed campus-wide focus on signature research centers and investment in other areas of significant promise. For the year, the university expended a total of $191 million in support of research projects.
"Our faculty and graduate students once again showed how exceedingly well they do when they compete nationally for research funding," said OSU President Ed Ray. "The innovations coming out of our laboratories, from wave energy turbines to new varieties of wheat to nanoscience-based dialysis machines, are pushing the boundaries of science, improving lives and spurring economic activity."
OSU is Oregon's only university ranked in the Carnegie Foundation's top tier for "very high research activity" and is one of only two research universities in America to hold the land grant, space grant, sea grant and sun grant designations simultaneously. The strengths supporting those designations were apparent in the funding researchers attracted last year:
- The College of Agricultural Sciences, ranked tops in the nation in recognition of research and scholarship by its peers, earned $33.6 million in research support, while the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, home to one of the largest and most productive concentrations of marine scientists in the nation, earned $30.2 million.
- Researchers at the College of Engineering took in nearly $17.6 million and at the College of Science, $15.8 million.
- Health-related research efforts earned more than $18 million in funding - $11.1 million at the College of Health and Human Sciences, some $3 million at the Environmental Health Science Center, $2.4 million for the Linus Pauling Institute and nearly $2 million at the College of Pharmacy.
University leaders say that level of success is particularly rewarding, given the increased national competition for federal awards, which make up about two-thirds of research support for OSU.
"The number of grant applications submitted for every federal award made has risen substantially in recent years, so it speaks well of our faculty that they continue to succeed in the most competitive arena," said John Cassady, OSU vice president for Research. "The seven research initiatives funded by the Legislature earlier this year will provide further support for our faculty to study and compete in areas such as ocean wave energy, drug discovery, sustainable technologies and food processing innovation and build on existing successes."
The news was even better with regard to new inventions and transfer of OSU-created technology to the commercial sector. OSU took in $2,478,878 in licensing revenue - an increase of more than $1 million over the past three years - and reported 54 invention disclosures, up from 48 the previous year. That annual total stood at 37 just three years ago.
The increase is due, in large part, to increased sales of a novel wood adhesive, growing use of specialty varieties of wheat and potatoes, success of an innovative mass spectrometer and development of a mold yeast inhibitor. University officials also point to a reorganization of the Technology Transfer office that has allowed more staff time to be focused on working with individual faculty and helping to prepare new innovations for market.
"New markets are emerging for OSU inventions and markets for existing innovations continue to expand," said Brian Wall, interim director of Technology Transfer for OSU. "We look forward to further growth in 2007-08, as licensing agreements are struck for innovations that are ready for market and as new innovations continue to develop in our laboratories."