Research & Innovation

Since the mid-20th century, university research has been a major contributor to the advancement of knowledge, technological innovation and economic growth in the United States.  Research universities are uniquely positioned to make the kinds of long-range investments in basic research that frequently lead to new discoveries and new ideas that were not fully anticipated - sometimes not anticipated at all - when the research began.  Other research focuses directly on the search for solutions to national problems and effective responses to global challenges. 

Research at Princeton contributes to the economic vitality of the Princeton area and the State of New Jersey by:

  • Bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and other external research funding to Princeton each year, much of which is then spent locally;
  • Dedicating significant resources of its own to support the efforts of university researchers;
  • Pursuing discoveries that can provide a basis for future economic growth, and lead to the development of new technologies, businesses and jobs; and
  • Working with other universities, companies and government agencies in New Jersey to find new solutions to a wide range of practical problems.

Catalyst for Discovery

As a major research institution, Princeton University attracts hundreds of millions of federal research dollars to New Jersey each year to develop knowledge that addresses human needs.  In recent years, Princeton has dramatically boosted its internally funded research spending.  Research expenditures for FY2015, supported by external and internal funding sources, totaled $457.6 million.  While most of the University's research expenditures focus on basic research, there has been growing emphasis on developing real-world applications of basic research findings, programs to encourage entrepreneurism and research collaborations with industry partners.

Pie chart showing sources of research funding: $42.4m NIH, $57.8m NSF, $31.4m DOD, $134.6m DOE, $16.1m other federal sources, $0.4m state government, $8.9m industry/corporate, $20.8m foundations, $138.8m internal funds, $6.4m other


Arturo Pizano, Program manager for university relations for Siemens in Princeton, NJ

Arturo Pizano, Program manager for university relations
Siemens, Princeton, New Jersey

Siemens works with Princeton University and a number of other universities to support R&D and to tap pipelines of student talent for job recruitment.  Pizano believes such partnerships contribute to a robust R&D ecosystem across New Jersey.

"Siemens is a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification.  This is an environment where new innovations are rapidly emerging and where you can't accomplish everything through internal resources alone.  We're able to engage with Princeton's faculty members and students, and this exchange of ideas and expertise helps shape the company's technology roadmap."

To learn more about opportunities for research partnerships, visit the University's Office of Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations.

Photo by Denise Applewhite

The Impact of Innovation

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering researcher at Princeton University wearing safety goggles observing a large flame in a glass case.

Photo by Tyler Van Buren

The extent to which research universities contribute to the economic vitality of their local communities and regions depends not only on the quality of their educational programs and the scale of their research activities but also on how effective they are in encouraging and supporting the translation of their intellectual and human capital into new products and services, new businesses and new jobs. During the past 10 years, Princeton has greatly increased its engagement in and support for this process.  Increased technology transfer efforts in new patents and licensing agreements by the Office of Technology Licensing, and financial support to bridge the gap between University research and commercial development from the Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund, have served to advance technologies including organic light-emitting diodes, nanoscale printing and manufacturing, the conversion of carbon dioxide into alternative fuels, 3-D microscopes and security for cloud data storage.

Educating and encouraging Princeton entrepreneurs

Students at work at the eHub

Photo by Denise Applewhite

In recent years Princeton has developed an array of programs for students with an interest in entrepreneurship.  They include formal courses, opportunities for "learning by doing," and other resources.  A 2015 report issued by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee points out that education in entrepreneurship supports the University's academic mission as it "help(s) students build the character they will need for taking risks, following their passions, and persisting through the inevitable failures that are necessary parts of entrepreneurial activity."

The launch of the Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund to advance researchers' proof-of-concept work, the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education's eHub as a focal point for entrepreneurship, and the Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund to support alumni startups have served to strengthen the state's innovation ecosystem while supporting university students and faculty.