News: Press Releases

May 23, 2012

UMass research spending climbs to nearly $600 million

  • The UMass System

May 23, 2012: Research spending at the University of Massachusetts continued its upward climb, topping the $500 million mark for the second year in a row and inching ever closer to $600 million, President Robert L. Caret announced today.

Research expenditures increased to $586.7 million in Fiscal Year 2011 from $542.7 million in Fiscal Year 2010, according to a report prepared by the University system's Office of Institutional Research. The additional $44 million represented an 8.1 percent increase in research expenditures over the previous year.

``The millions of research dollars pouring into all five campuses is testament to the University of Massachusetts's stature as a world-class institution whose research is vital to the future of the Commonwealth and beyond,'' President Caret said, in announcing the new research figures at  a meeting of the UMass Board of Trustees' Science, Technology and Research committee.

``The innovations and discoveries happening on our campuses improve and save lives and nurture the kinds of creative industries that will keep the state competitive in the global economy, especially in regions outside of Route 128 where UMass performs over 90 percent of its research and development,'' President Caret said. ``We owe our success to the pioneering work of the faculty and students, the leadership of the Chancellors and their teams, and the encouragement and guidance of the Board of Trustees.''

Most research on UMass campuses is externally funded, with the federal government providing a majority of the funding through the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other sources. Federal funding in Fiscal Year 2011 increased by 5 percentage points, from 61 percent to 66 percent of all UMass research spending, the report found.

Part of UMass's success in attracting federal research dollars in recent years rests with state government setting aside research and development matching grants, which the University has leveraged in pursuit of national R & D funding, such as was used to create national centers for nano-manufacturing on both the Amherst and Lowell campuses.

Just last week, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Economic Development Chair Joseph Wagner put $50 million in the economic development bill to create an ``Innovation Investment Fund'' to support research and development at universities and research centers.

`` We are grateful to Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Wagner for creating this fund that, once again, will enable UMASS to use state matching funds to pursue economically important R&D opportunities for Massachusetts," President Caret said.

Among Massachusetts colleges and universities, UMass ranked third in research and development expenditures, behind only MIT and Harvard, according to the report. UMass research expenditures have been growing at a rate that significantly exceeds the national average. For example, UMass research spending in Fiscal Year 2010 grew at a rate of 11 percent, compared to the national growth rate of 6.9 percent.

Among the report's other key findings:

  • 94 percent of the $586.7 million in funded research fell under the category of science and engineering
  • 58.7 percent of the University's funded research occurred in the life sciences
  • 76 percent of life sciences research was in the medical and biological fields

``Our students and our state are two big beneficiaries of our research spending,'' said James J. Karam, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. ``The students get exposed to the greatest thinkers in their fields and the state gets the benefit of the students because most of them will stay here and put their knowledge to work for the good of the Commonwealth.''

Chairman Karam also pointed out that UMass research produces innovation that helps existing firms stay competitive and spawns new start-up companies across the state, a comment echoed by Mark E. Russell, vice president for Engineering, Technology and Mission Assurance at Raytheon.

``Our research partnerships with UMass are extremely valuable - both in terms of helping us develop new technologies and products, and in recruiting and developing talent for the company,'' Mr. Russell said. ``More broadly, as two of the largest high technology institutions within the state, UMass and Raytheon together help to drive the innovation environment within the Commonwealth.''

The wide variety of research occurring on UMass campuses in Fiscal Year 2011 included:

Amherst: Leading a collection of US academic institutions working to develop new radar systems to provide earlier warnings of severe weather events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, to save lives and property. Partners include the Raytheon Company and the National Science Foundation.

Boston: Working in partnership with the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to reduce racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in cancer incidence, morbidity and mortality through personalized cancer therapy for the benefit of patients in Massachusetts and across the globe.

Dartmouth: Conducting research aimed at sustaining fishery habitats off the New England coast. Activities include a massive video survey to document the scallop population and research into the health of the cod population. The research has proven critical to informing the debate about federal fishing regulations.

Lowell: Collaborating with Boston Scientific to advance one of Massachusetts's leading industries - medical devices. Developing new materials to enhance the performance of medical devices, including enhancements to stents used to treat blocked coronary arteries.

Worcester: Spearheading a unique UMass system-wide program to expedite the translation of laboratory discoveries into new products and therapeutics for patients. All UMass faculty participating in any form of translational research may join what is known as the UMass Center for Clinical and Translation Science. It is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Research expenditures at UMass have increased by more than 50 percent over the past five years, rising from $387.4 million in Fiscal Year 2007 to $586.7 million in Fiscal Year 2011.

Research spending by campus for Fiscal Year 2011 was as follows:

  • Amherst: $181.3 million
  • Boston: $57 million
  • Dartmouth: $25.6 million
  • Lowell: $60 million
  • Worcester: $262.7 million

Contact: Ann Scales, 617-287-4084, Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073