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A graduate student holds a 3D printed sample in front of a monitor displaying the same sample during testing.

UT Research Breaking Records, Growing Impact in Tennessee and Beyond

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, continued to expand its impact and research footprint last year, breaking university records for both research expenditures and sponsored project awards for the second straight year.

Since 2019, UT has more than doubled its sponsored project awards, reaching a record $428 million in the fiscal year that ended in June 2023. The university also reported $339 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2023, an increase of nearly $15 million over fiscal year 2022 and the highest amount in UT history. Research expenditures include internal and external funds that support UT research activities. Additionally, UT researchers submitted proposals worth $1.22 billion in fiscal year 2023, breaking the university record set in fiscal year 2022 of $1.01 billion.

The growth of UT’s research enterprise reflects the university’s strategies to expand translational research collaborations with organizations outside UT, invest in place-based innovation, and pursue more ambitious multidisciplinary research projects supported by its innovation gateways.

“I am proud of the progress we’ve made and the records we’ve set in our research, but what excites me most is the important work behind those numbers,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “Our faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students are using their expertise to solve complex problems and develop new knowledge that makes life and lives better not just here in Tennessee but all over the world.”

In addition to record awards and expenditures, UT’s research highlights last year also include an $18 million National Science Foundation award for a new Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing, the release of a strategic plan co-developed by Cherokee Health Systems and UT to advance research and education in clinical and community health, a historic investment of $50 million in state-of-the-art research infrastructure at the UT Institute for Agriculture’s Research and Education Centers, support of high-tech start-ups in the incubator and accelerator programs of UT’s Spark Innovation Center, a groundbreaking for the new Innovation South building on the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, expansion of the university’s partnership with Volkswagen, and the launch of three new government-university-industry consortia charged with advancing Tennessee’s innovation economy, including TEAM TN, whose goal is to secure Tennessee leadership in mobility.

“Our researchers, faculty, staff, postdocs, and students are working together to address some of the most pressing issues facing society,” said Deb Crawford, vice chancellor for research, innovation, and economic development. “By coming together to solve problems that no individual researcher or small research team can accomplish alone, we are creating results that benefit communities and organizations across Tennessee and more broadly. We are at our very best when we work together.”

Sponsored project data is tracked and reported by the Research Informatics team in UT’s Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development