As communities continue to grapple with significant societal challenges, University of Michigan researchers are seeking opportunities to amplify the impact of their discoveries and innovations to improve the quality of life for people across the state, nation and world.
To support their ongoing efforts, the university has launched the first phase of its new presidential strategy to bolster resources and personnel to help faculty achieve their research and scholarship goals in key strategic areas.
President Santa J. Ono has charged the Office of the Vice President for Research with developing and implementing the first phase of his Strategy to Amplify Research and Scholarship.
Based on input from schools, colleges and units, the six initial pillars are:
- Enhance support for researchers seeking large-scale grants.
- Enhance support for foundation-sponsored research.
- Enhance support for industry-sponsored research.
- Establish infrastructures to coordinate faculty honorifics.
- Establish infrastructures to forecast new research frontiers.
- Expand research analytic capabilities to support strategy.
The university has invested $3 million this year to launch this initiative.
“As one of the nation’s leading public research universities, the University of Michigan is committed to prioritizing research, scholarship and innovation by investing in our outstanding faculty and supporting their exceptional work in ways that positively impact the world around us,” Ono said.
The strategy’s first pillar is designed to increase the competitiveness of faculty in their pursuit of large, external grants. OVPR will implement a new stage of its Bold Challenges Initiative this semester to support faculty seeking funds for large, groundbreaking, multidisciplinary research projects.
In medicine and engineering, these grants often are in excess of $5 million. In other fields, grants of $1 million or more can achieve parallel successes.
Bold Challenges will offer resources and services to help faculty members find collaborators and identify financial support to develop large-scale proposals, which often require project management support and detailed governance mechanisms. Faculty also will receive training to more effectively communicate the public value of their work.
Other strategic pillars position faculty for success in securing research funding from corporations and foundations.
U-M reported $66 million in research expenditures sponsored by U.S. foundations and nonprofit organizations during fiscal year 2022. The spending supported a range of activities from high-risk science and proof-of-concept projects to public engagement and community-engaged research.
The strategy’s second pillar calls for OVPR to strengthen outreach efforts with key foundations and other nonprofit organizations, while expanding tools and services for faculty to pursue these funding sources.
In FY ’22, U-M also reported $108 million in industry-sponsored research expenditures. Innovation Partnerships’ Corporate Research Alliances team will lead the strategy’s third pillar, which seeks to increase corporate research engagement universitywide.
Innovation Partnerships, based in OVPR, will provide faculty-facing corporate business development support to convert corporate relationships and conversations into successful sponsored research collaborations.
The team at Innovation Partnerships also will grow and expand existing corporate research engagements by allocating alliance management support for strategic corporate research sponsors.
The strategy’s other pillars focus on bolstering the infrastructure needed to help faculty compete for external resources. This includes establishing a team to increase central coordination and strategy around prestigious external honorifics for faculty, and enhancing research analysis and forecasting capabilities to better identify current strengths and future areas of growth.
“The bold ideas and innovative projects that emanate from our laboratories, studios and workspaces are truly groundbreaking, and with the right amount of support, they can push the frontiers of knowledge and discovery,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research.
“The Presidential Strategy to Amplify Research and Scholarship was designed specifically to provide our teams with the right amount of support so they can tackle society’s greatest challenges and flourish.”