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With more than two months to go before the close of fiscal year 2024 (FY2024), the University of Hawaiʻi has already exceeded last year’s record $515.9 million extramural funding haul with a total of $516.6 million, as of April 22. This marks the third consecutive year that UH has topped half a billion dollars in extramural funding and is on track to establish a new record total estimated at $550 million to close FY2024. This year’s estimated record-setting number would represent a $34.1 million or 6.6% increase over the previous record last year.

“We are extremely pleased with our record-setting intake of extramural funding, which again must be attributed to our hard-working and dedicated faculty, staff and graduate students,” said UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos. “While more is good, we also need to be better. Over the next three to five years, UH must make the necessary upgrades to our current research infrastructure to accommodate this rapid growth and to continue our leading role as a knowledge provider and economic driver for the state of Hawaiʻi.”

Research that matters

Much of UH’s success can be attributed to its strategic focus on “research that matters,” including an expansive range of cross-disciplinary projects in land and ocean conservation, renewable energy, food and agroforestry, space science and engineering, cancer research, sea level rise, wildfire mitigation and healthcare initiatives. The recent success is also attributed to the establishment of the Office of Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation, the first of its kind at a major university, which has brought together UH researchers with ʻāina (land) organizations and practitioners to conduct important place-based research initiatives.

“We are very proud that the faculty, staff and students at UH Mānoa are leading the way toward this record-breaking performance,” said UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno. “It is important to also recognize that we have greatly expanded the involvement of undergraduate students in our world-class research, thereby ensuring that student learning is inspired and informed by research and creative work that matters to Hawaiʻi and to the world.”

Extramural funding is defined as external investments from agencies such as the federal government, industry and non-profit organizations that support research and training activities conducted by university faculty and staff. Extramural projects support research and innovation that helps to increase knowledge and provide solutions to improve quality of life.

“Increasing extramural funding is a key strategy in our commitment to diversify our resource base from traditional reliance solely on state general funds and tuition, and I couldn’t be prouder that each of our four major academic units is ahead of last year,” said UH President David Lassner. “This half billion dollars represents the confidence of the federal government and many other funders in the excellence and effectiveness across the UH System and allows us to create thousands of high-quality jobs across the islands with overall economic impact well over a billion dollars for Hawaiʻi.”

Research conducted by UH has a major impact on the state’s economy. A 2021 study by the UH Economic Research Organization showed that research-related expenditures totaled nearly $477 million in FY2020 and generated $735 million of total business sales, $237 million of employee earnings and $42 million of state tax revenue, while supporting an estimated 5,400 jobs.

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