The Arizona Board of Regents, the body that oversees the state’s three public universities, approved on Thursday new technology-focused funding plans for Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.
The new funding will last for three years and under the approved proposals UA and ASU will each receive $32 million annually, while NAU will get $16 million per year.
The funding comes from the Technology and Research Initiative Fund, or TRIF, which directs sales tax revenue to K-12 schools, community colleges and Arizona’s public universities.
“Our universities are on the leading edge of innovative research and development that will benefit Arizona and the world long into the future,” said ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson said in a statement. “These dollars will fund critical research that ensures ASU, NAU and UArizona to continue to act as problem-solvers and promote the long-term prosperity, health, security and strength of Arizona communities.”
The TRIF came to be after Proposition 301 passed in 2001. The fund is overseen by ABOR and it received a 20-year extension in 2018.
In the 2021 fiscal year Arizona’s three public universities generated $465 million in TRIF-enabled research on $112 million contributed to the fund by the state.
“These technology and research investments are vital for our universities and Arizona as a whole – enabling groundbreaking research to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time,” said ABOR executive director John Arnold said in a statement.
“From advancements in health care to cybersecurity and water conservation, our universities are developing and bringing to market the technologies that are improving the lives of Arizona families every day.”
In the newly approved proposals, the universities had to describe how the funds would impact five strategic research topics: Improving health; water, environment and energy solutions; national security systems; space exploration and optical solutions; and workforce development.
The funding will be used for a great variety of projects over the coming years. ASU will direct TRIF funding to the Biodesign Institute, which has played a key role in the state’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as other pandemic related efforts. NAU will fund its Pathogen Genomics research, while UArizona intends to boost research opportunities for undergraduates, among many other uses.
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