Penn State research expenditures top $800 million for fifth consecutive year

Allison Beese, Norris B. McFarlane Faculty Career Development Professor in materials science and engineering, prepares to stretch a sample of advanced high strength steel (stainless steel 301LN) while a camera and software setup capture deformation. Credit: Patrick Mansell/Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's research expenditures totaled $801 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, marking the fifth consecutive year topping the $800 million mark, according to Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey. The total included $510 million in funding from a variety of federal agencies and departments including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Education and several others.

The figures reflect the balance and breadth that have long characterized Penn State's research enterprise. "We have a very diverse portfolio, a reflection of our broad base of expertise across all domains," Sharkey said. "Penn State garners significant resources from all federal agencies."

That balance is demonstrated by multimillion dollar awards for new or ongoing work in areas as diverse as a Department of Energy-supported program for designing energy-efficient buildings, a national data coordinating center for asthma research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, a federal bus-testing program conducted for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the design and development of an anti-torpedo torpedo for the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Due to our very talented and tenacious faculty," Sharkey noted, "we continue to maintain a strong overall portfolio despite the continued effects of ongoing budget constraints in Washington."

He also pointed to a positive trend in the University's technology transfer operations, with increases over the last two years in the numbers of licenses executed and start-up companies formed based on Penn State's intellectual property. The former have grown from 18 to 30 annually, the latter, from 5 to 10.

These increases, Sharkey said, are one early outgrowth of President Eric Barron's Invent Penn State initiative, which emphasizes expanding Penn State's role as a major economic-development engine for the Commonwealth.

"With the new focus on building industrial partnerships, and new incentives and support in place for our faculty and student inventors, we are beginning to see the increased fruit of our discoveries, which translates to jobs and economic growth," Sharkey said.

Last Updated December 14, 2015