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Scholarship, creativity and innovation fuel research growth at VA Tech

Scholarship, creativity and innovation fuel research growth at VA Tech


Virginia Tech reported that extramural research expenditures for fiscal year 2023 reached a record high of $419 million, surpassing the university’s strategic plan goal of $410 million two years ahead of plan.

This research growth has been driven by scholarship, creative activity and innovation across all universities and research institutes addressing a range of critical challenges including wireless technologies, artificial intelligence, climate resilience, infectious diseases, invasive species, security, microelectronics and overall health.

The university's visiting committee received the historic news in a report from Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui on June 10.

Virginia Tech's research ecosystem is thriving, and “our world-class faculty's creative endeavors, their commitment to innovating and collaborating beyond traditional research, and their dedication to evolving agilely with technology have helped sustain this momentum,” said Sui, who is also the university's chief research and innovation officer.

Virginia Tech research grants and expenditures increased by more than 10% for the second consecutive year, with federal, state, local and private research grants increasing by a combined 17%. From FY21 to FY23, sponsored research grants increased by 31% and expenditures increased by 28%.

Sui pointed to several key indicators that have contributed to the growth of research.

The Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services (the latter of which includes the National Institutes of Health) both saw significant growth, each increasing 27 percent from last year. In terms of increases in university-sponsored research, over the past five years the College of Engineering increased by $28 million, the College of Science by $14 million, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences by $11 million, and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine by $9 million. Three of the seven research institutes also reported significant growth since 2020: Virginia Tech's Fralin Biomedical Institute increased by $16 million, the Virginia Tech Institute for National Security Studies by $15 million, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute by $8 million.

He also highlighted the framework that supports Virginia Tech faculty in enabling transformative research.

Strategic Growth Areas, such as Virginia Tech's Research Frontiers, are broad areas where academic expertise aligns with national and international trends. Focusing on these areas provides the University with opportunities to enhance its international standing, maximize its global impact, and attract significant external funding. Complementing the Strategic Growth Areas are competitively bid investment mechanisms, such as the Destination Area 2.0 project, which strengthen and deploy the University's expertise and assets to support collaborative, interdisciplinary research, teaching, and outreach activities that address compelling problems of global importance.

Sui cited recent successes, including the National Security Lab securing $17 million over the next two years to work with the U.S. Navy and industry to test autonomous undersea robots, and the Commonwealth Cyber ​​Initiative (CCI) becoming a major contributor to the Wireless Innovation Fund administered by the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The CCI xG Testbed is an integral part of the initiative's wireless innovation strategy and is a unique platform for testing and experimenting with open network interoperability and security.

“As a land-grant university, we have a special responsibility to use our knowledge, experience and expertise to find solutions to the complex challenges facing our Virginia communities and beyond,” Sui said. “Every day I am impressed by the research being conducted at Virginia Tech to create a better tomorrow.”




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