External funding breaks half-billion dollars

Winning support for ISU research and discoveries

A summary of the fiscal year in research, provide by Sarah Nusser, vice president for research.

Iowa State broke another record in fiscal year 2017, receiving more than $500 million in external funding.

Total external funding rose over the previous record set in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016 -- making it the fourth record year in a row for ISU external funding. The increase from $425.8 million to $503.6 million was due in part to a $93 million gift to the ISU Foundation earlier this year, which largely benefits programs and students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

External funding includes grants, contracts, gifts and cooperative agreements from federal, state and local governments as well as from corporations, nonprofits and other universities for research, academic support, scholarships and fellowships and more.

“External funding supports specific functions of our land-grant mission such as cutting-edge research and scholarships that keep Iowa State accessible,” said Benjamin Allen, interim president. “More than a half-billion dollars in external funding this year reflects a strong belief in the quality of our university to prepare students for the future, produce groundbreaking discoveries, and improve lives across Iowa and the world.”

Research funding from external sponsors totaled $243.7 million, making FY17 the second-highest research funding level behind FY16’s record year of $252.5 million. Iowa State received $168.7 million in research support from federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Department of Agriculture and National Institutes of Health. Research funding from non-federal sponsors totaled $74.9 million. Non-federal sponsors include industry, commodity organizations, nonprofit organizations, the state of Iowa and subcontracts from other higher education institutions.

Sarah Nusser, vice president for research, was pleased with this year’s progress toward matching last year’s record. 

“Our FY17 research funding awards provide strong evidence of the tremendous capacity of our faculty to generate new ideas to tackle societal challenges and benefit the lives of Iowans and our global society,” Nusser said. “More than half of our larger awards were to initiate new research projects, and we doubled the number of awards of $1 million or more.”

Nusser noted a particular strength in this year’s funding was support for interdisciplinary research in complex societal challenges identified as key areas for Iowa State. Iowa State’s research themes include promoting plant, animal and human health; building sustainability into community, agricultural, and natural systems; designing advanced materials and manufacturing; enabling data-driven science and secure cyberinfrastructure; and developing Iowa’s workforce in a global economy.


Iowa State’s major sources of external funding in FY17

Federal agencies

  • Energy, $76,516,213
  • Agriculture, $40,299,255
  • National Science Foundation, $36,056,474
  • Education, $29,903,386
  • Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health, $12,873,682
  • Commerce, $7,713,965
  • Defense, $7,028,154
  • Other federal, $8,560,274

Non-federal sources

  • Individual, $163,854,957
  • Industry/corporate, $45,275,806
  • State of Iowa, $33,207,279
  • Nonprofit organizations, $22,188,486
  • Higher education, $12,669,430
  • Commodity groups, $5,795,469
  • Other non-federal, $1,668,669

External funding total (including many other sources)

  • $503,611,500