University of Arkansas receives nearly $200 million grant to create new research institute

Northwest Arkansas News

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A $194.7 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation will establish a new research institute at the University of Arkansas, according to a release from the college on Tuesday.

The UA says the grant is “one of the largest single private gifts ever given to a university for advancing research and economic development.”

“All transformational solutions start with questions,” said University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz. “How does the University of Arkansas distinguish itself as a great research university among a sea of great and distinguished universities?  How do we do that in a way that drives economic development and creates clear avenues for industry involvement? How do we ultimately change the culture of collaboration in such a way that it advances the research and commercialization profile and production of the university? And how do we change the way we do science on campus?

“The creation of an interdisciplinary and wholly integrative research institute was the answer.”

The University of Arkansas Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I3R) will “transform the research, innovation, and economic development culture of the university.”

The lab will be designed to facilitate research across five “overlapping clusters of innovation:”

  • Data science
  • Food + technology: Food systems and the future of food
  • Materials science & engineering
  • Bioscience & bioengineering research in metabolism
  • Integrative systems neuroscience

The grant will help attract and hire 20 new faculty with “established research programs and a history of external support.”

“This grant will have an enormous impact not only on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region and state, but on our campus as well,” said Charles Robinson, interim provost and vice chancellor for student and academic affairs. “This change will be accomplished through deep engagement of university faculty and students in research, discovery and innovation, entrepreneurship education and commercialization of research.”

Funding overview

  • Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I3R) – $88 million  
  • I3R Research Facility – $89 million
  • Entrepreneurship Education – $3.5 million
  • Bentonville Campus – $14 million

For a more detailed funding breakdown, view the I3R Fact Sheet.

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