What a difference 13 years makes.

In 2000, Virginia Tech earned $97.3 million in grants for research and development from outside federal and state agencies, industry, and foundations.

Jump to present day, and Virginia Tech earns nearly triple as much in outside support for research — about $286.5 million. National Science Foundation funding has continually increased, and along the way, the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services emerged as important federal funding agencies.

The progress reflects a strategic expansion in Virginia Tech research proficiencies, according to Robert W. Walters, vice president for research, who reported Sunday to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

“A well-diversified portfolio is as good for Virginia Tech research as it is for any investor,” Walters said. “By making targeted, strategic investments in multidisciplinary programs and talented faculty members over the years, we have significantly increased our opportunities.”

NSF support accounts for about 19 percent of Virginia Tech’s nearly quarter of a billion dollars in research funded by outside sources, known in the academic world as extramural funding.

Department of Defense support is also thriving, providing about 20 percent of the extramural funds — a reflection of the university’s ability to do secure research. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health, accounts for about 18 percent of the extramural funding, demonstrating the growth of Virginia Tech’s life science programs.

Additional grants are fueling Virginia Tech’s transportation, agriculture, and energy programs, adding to the research momentum.

“It’s a virtuous circle,” Walters said. “For example, as funding from the National Institutes of Health rises, it increases opportunities for our engineers and scientists in areas such as drug delivery, imaging, and materials research.”

Virginia Tech investments supplemented by outside research funding amounted to $454 million in research and development activity in fiscal year 2012, marking the 13th consecutive year of research growth under President Charles W. Steger.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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