The University of Louisville secured nearly $170 million to support groundbreaking research in the 2019-2020 fiscal year — the university’s most successful year ever for competitively funded research.

That funding, an increase of nearly $18 million over the previous record year in fiscal 2018-2019, supported work to train students for the technology-backed “jobs of tomorrow,” to research and test vaccines as a Pfizer Vaccines Center of Excellence and to develop next-generation manufacturing technology.

“One of our goals at UofL is to be a great place to invest,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi, Ph.D. “This is proof-positive that we are succeeding in that goal — that UofL and its research are a strong investment. The work this funding supports has the potential to address the grand challenges of our time: how we empower communities, advance health and engineer the future of work.”

Kevin Gardner, Ph.D., UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation, said that investment value is especially apparent in the university’s work over the past year to combat the COVID-19 global pandemic through research that illuminates the virus’s spread, possible treatments and impacts on everyday life.

“The research we do here at UofL has impact — huge impact — and can improve dramatically the way we live and work,” Gardner said. “Our continued success in securing funding is a testament to the dedication of our faculty and staff to supporting that important, potentially world-changing research.”

The 2019-2020 fiscal year also was the university’s best year on record for commercialization income, according to the UofL Commercialization EPI-Center, an office of UofL Research and Innovation that works with industry and startups to commercialize university technologies. UofL earned $9.4 million from license royalties and other related income, a 30-percent increase over the year prior.

The increased income was propelled by a strong year of deals and startups, with seven companies launched. Those startups include BioProducts, a new company commercializing a university technology for producing low-calorie sweetener and bio-coal from spent distillers’ grain, and Unitonomy, which is commercializing a tool for measuring employee engagement. Deals included the licensing of a technology believed to block the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, from infecting human cells.

“It’s important for people to know that our research doesn’t end with a manuscript, but with getting our research out into the world where it can have real impact,” Gardner said.