University's research portfolio surges forward
“Virginia Tech researchers have put the university on an incredible trajectory of growth, leading to our research expenditures surpassing our strategic goals two years early,” said Laurel Miner, assistant vice president and chief of staff in the Office of Research and Innovation.
For a second consecutive year, Virginia Tech’s research awards and expenditures have grown by more than 10 percent.
Based on fiscal year 2023 data estimates, federal, state, local, and private research awards grew a combined 17 percent, while research expenditures rose to more than $650 million - a 13 percent increase over last year's totals. Over a two-year period, awards have seen a 31 percent increase and expenditures a 28 percent increase. Extramural research expenditures account for $415 million of the total number, surpassing the university’s goal in the strategic plan, two years early.
On Monday, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors was briefed on the status of the university’s diverse research portfolio and contributing factors to its upward trending trajectory.
“Virginia Tech researchers have put the university on an incredible trajectory of growth, leading to our research expenditures surpassing our strategic goal.” said Laurel Miner, assistant vice president and chief of staff in the Office of Research and Innovation. “All of which affects and enhances the university’s overall reputation that will provide opportunities for future growth.”
Miner provided the update to the board on behalf of Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui who was speaking as a panelist at the Times Higher Education Innovation & Impact Summit during the time of the meeting.
Research represents about 90 percent of the sponsored work conducted at Virginia Tech. Awards are a measure of money provided by outside agencies for purposes of innovative research, while expenditures reflect awarded money spent during those projects. Awards outpacing expenditures is a show of confidence in the work being done.
Three research institutes – Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, the Virginia Tech National Security Institute, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute – saw their externally sponsored research expenditures grow by a total of 22.7 percent. Together, they account for more than one quarter of the university’s research expenditures.
Research expenditures, year over year
Several factors and trends impacted the growth of Virginia Tech’ research enterprise:
- Research development provided coordinated investments, especially toward priority areas in the Research Frontiers established by Sui with university leadership.
- The university’s investment institutes provided researchers with substantial platforms to expand their research programs.
- For federally sponsored research, the most significant growth was derived from awards from the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation, each with a 26 percent increase, followed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health, with 18 percent.
- Total award amount and average award size was up in 2023, indicating continued future success.
- Proposals have grown significantly since 2021, partially because of an increase in larger scaled research projects between $75 million and $250 million.
Additionally, research faculty and students are able to broaden their reach through support made possible by Virginia Tech’s Office of Research and Innovation. A variety of services and support help faculty, staff, and students from across nine colleges and seven research institutes, plan, perform, and commercialize groundbreaking research.