BU Research Has Powerful Economic Impact

New report shows Boston University research projects generate $395 million in new business nationally.

Research at Boston University has grown steadily in the last decade, with its sponsored research topping half a billion dollars in fiscal year 2019. This massive research enterprise creates jobs, new products, and improved technologies in Massachusetts and across the country. According to a new report, BU’s federal and non-federal research expenditures exceeded $395 million between fiscal years 2015 and 2018, and included transactions with vendors in 696 US counties.

“Research at Boston University is fueling innovation and solving some of society’s most important problems. Now we know it is also a vital driver of our local and national economy and the careers of our researchers,” said Gloria Waters, BU vice president and associate provost for research. Map of BU research expenditures by congressional district

The report also states that research projects at BU employed an average of 5,700 people per year between 2014 and 2017. Nearly 55 percent of research-funded employees were students (graduate or undergraduate), and nearly nine percent were faculty.

The report, produced by the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS), also details the geographic distribution of Boston University research spending. For example, companies in Massachusetts received more than $194 million between 2015 and 2018 for their contracts with BU research projects.

IRIS is a national consortium of more than 30 research universities organized around an IRB-approved data repository, housed at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

“Our reports clarify and explain the economic impact of university research through many different lenses,” said IRIS Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. “Other IRIS reports contain similar information on the career paths, earnings, and outcomes for university employees and students. Through these data-driven reports, our goal is to better understand and explain, and ultimately improve the public value of higher education and research.”

Read more about Boston University’s research program at bu.edu/research. Learn more about IRIS at iris.isr.umich.edu.