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The University of Texas at San Antonio has joined the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS), a consortium of America’s leading higher educational institutions that provides data to demonstrate the public value of sponsored scientific research. In 2022, UTSA joined IRIS in a limited capacity allowing the university to receive a State Legislative report. The report showed that sponsored research at UTSA accounted for $7.7 million in spending on research-related goods and services within the state of Texas.

 “UTSA is proud to be a driving force in the Texas economy and we recognize that our research enterprise is a key contributor to that impact,” said Heather Shipley, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Our expanded partnership with IRIS will provide invaluable data to assess the impact of research on workforce training and the career trajectories of our students. By leveraging research activities, we can help shape the innovators of tomorrow and meet the evolving demands of our workforce.” 

UTSA’s research enterprise has reported continued, substantial expansion in recent years. In FY 2023, the university’s research expenditures grew to $152.3 million, up 7.5% from $141.7 million the previous year ($158.5 million counting unrecovered indirect funds), making FY 2023 the fourth consecutive year that annual research expenditures exceeded $100 million. 

“There is a growing need for accurate data on the positive impact of research on the economy and employment. These data can inform decision-making processes, which better positions UTSA to increase the impact of our research contributions,” said JoAnn Browning, UTSA interim vice president for research. “Joining IRIS allows us to access these data and demonstrate how our research can continue to benefit society and the economy.”    

IRIS will provide the university with detailed data and reports on research spending, research vendors, and the employment and earnings of research-trained employees who work or previously worked on research-funded projects at UTSA. The university’s researchers will also have access to the detailed dataset IRIS has developed on the impact of funded research — including transaction-level information on more than 580,000 sponsored projects that have employed more than 985,000 researchers in the U.S. These projects have injected $192 billion across nearly 140 campuses around the country. 

UTSA is among several public universities in Texas to join IRIS, an effort facilitated by the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors (CPUPC), which aims to demonstrate the collective impact public universities have in Texas. CPUPC comprises Texas public general academic universities, system offices, health-related institutions, and the three two-year state colleges in the Houston area.   

“We’re thrilled to welcome The University of Texas at San Antonio into IRIS,” said Jason Owen-Smith, IRIS executive director and a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. “UTSA was one of the original forces behind our partnership with Texas universities. We’re excited to deepen that relationship to help present a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of the vital role public universities play in shaping the economy and workforce within Texas.”