CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University’s growing research enterprise achieved its second highest level of funding support ever, in the fiscal year that ended June 30 – $285 million in total grants and contracts to support work in public health, the environment, advanced engineering and projects to help develop Oregon’s and the nation’s economy.
In 2010 OSU received $288 million, a total boosted by a $36 million shot-in-the-arm from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). “If you take that one-time funding out of the picture, this past year was our best,” said Ron Adams, interim vice president for research at Oregon State.
“The success of our researchers in competing for grants shows we have a portfolio that is broad and deep,” Adams added. “We have support from more than two dozen state and federal agencies. And on the strength of that work, we continue to attract investment by business, industry and private foundations.”
In the past year, private-sector funding reached a record $37 million, a 50 percent increase over 2010.
Business payments to Oregon State to license patented technologies for product development reached nearly $6 million, more than double what the university received in 2010. OSU patents for transparent transistors, wheat varieties and formaldehyde-free adhesives generated most of that income, said Brian Wall, director of OSU Office for Commercialization and Corporate Development.
Through the Oregon State University Advantage, OSU continues to spin off new companies and to partner with existing ones. During the past year, 19 university and community clients have advanced toward launching new companies. They include:
- Beet, developer of a thin-film solar cell that aims to increase energy efficiency and accelerate the adoption of solar electricity;
- MuTherm, which is advancing a microscale combustion and heat exchanger system for heating air, water and other fluids;
- Waste2Watergy, a company focused on microbial fuel cells to generate electricity and treat wastewater;
- OnBoard Dynamics, whose goal is to commercialize an at-home natural-gas vehicle fueling system being developed at OSU-Cascades in Bend.
The OSU Advantage Accelerator is a component of the Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or Oregon RAIN. With support from the Oregon Legislature, collaborators include OSU, the University of Oregon, the cities of Eugene, Springfield, Corvallis and Albany and economic development organizations.
At any one time, OSU researchers are conducting more than 1,400 active research projects on topics such as aging, robotics, materials, pharmaceuticals, computer software, salmon recovery, climate, education and health risks from pollutants. They are developing new crop varieties, investigating the use of unmanned aerial systems in agriculture and forest management, improving the understanding of ocean productivity and studying new materials for energy storage.
In 2014, work continued on the design of a new ocean-going research vessel with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). OSU leads this project, estimated to reach $360 million if NSF opts to build three new ships over the next 10 years.
Research funding totaling about $171 million was obtained from more than a dozen federal agencies, with the NSF and the Departments of Energy and Agriculture being the most significant contributors. That was an 11 percent increase over federal funds received in 2013.
Private foundations also provided significant support. The Keck Foundation approved a $1 million grant to OSU to study materials that can change shape when exposed to light and may lead to novel ways to store hydrogen and capture carbon-dioxide. The David and Lucille Packard Foundation provided $1 million for PISCO, the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, for work on climate change and West Coast marine ecosystems.
Technologies developed at OSU continue to make an impact on global markets and the local economy. Transparent transistors developed in the past decade are a critical component in virtually all flat-panel display screens. NuScale Power, an Oregon-based energy development company, is expanding its workforce in response to a $217 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.