Researchers at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are reporting increases in external fundraising for the 2008 fiscal year. The grants and contracts are in addition to regular state funding. Both universities released their external fundraising figures today.

Jordan Cohen is the interim vice president for research at the U-I. He says the $386.2 million raised at Iowa represents a new record and a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. The largest share of U-I research funding, $260.2 million, came from the federal government.

"We have had another incredibly successful year in an era when federal funding for research, for the most part, has been relatively flat and when you factor in inflation has actually declined a little bit," Cohen said. "Competitiveness for federal funding is at an all time high. Our faculty is just excelling."

The June flooding damaged or destroyed a number of research facilities and research equipment on the Iowa City campus. Cohen says he does not believe the situation will lead to reductions in funding in the future. Iowa State University attracted $274 million in fiscal year ’08. That represents about a one-percent increase over last year. ISU’s biggest source of external funding is the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A record $35.2 million in funding came from corporations and commodity groups. Ted Okiishi, I.S.U. interim vice president for research, says the effort to raise those funds was a top priority. "There’s a lot of practicality associated with projects sponsored in this way," Okiishi said. "A company comes in and says ‘we don’t have a lot to invest, but we have these dollars to sponsor a project and this is what we’d like to realize from our investment.’ So right from the get go, we’re working with something with a defined purpose."

The money I.S.U. attracted in grants and contracts is seven-million dollars more than the university received for day to day operations from the state legislature. "Education is very expensive. The state of Iowa is doing it’s best to give us what it feels what it can afford," Okiishi said. "But if we want to realize our vision of what we need to really provide a high quality education, than we need to go out and get additional funds."

The University of Northern Iowa released external fundraising numbers two weeks ago. UNI received just over $36.7 million in the last fiscal year – a 26-percent increase over 2007. A single $11.5 million grant was awarded to researchers at UNI to investigate the use and effectiveness of pregnancy-planning services and study various education projects.