Penn State’s research expenditures fell just shy of the $1 billion mark in fiscal year 2020-2021. The total figure, $993 million, places Penn State in an elite group of American research universities. In fact, according to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) HERD (Higher Ed R&D) expenditures report, Penn State had 18 research areas ranked in the top 10. This is up from 15 in fiscal year 2017 and reflects an interdisciplinary strength built over three decades. These field rankings include the NSF ranking Penn State first in materials science and second in materials engineering.

We are an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers leveraging state-of-the-art instrumentation and expertise across the University system to address challenges from the fundamental to the applied.

Penn State has long ranked among the nation’s top universities in industry-sponsored research, and typically partners with more than 400 companies annually. In recognition of the high value that industry places on intellectual property, we have recently modified the way that we work with industry, installing simple and flexible options available to companies for the intellectual property (IP) developed in the projects that they sponsor.

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Our four principles of industry engagement are:

  1. Penn State has developed a menu of intellectual property (IP) options to service a wide variety of industry needs.
  2. Our Sponsored Research Agreement is designed to shorten negotiation times and lead to greater success in finalizing agreements.
  3. Many research services for which Penn State is uniquely qualified to perform can be approved with a simple Research Services Agreement.
  4. For research funded through federal dollars, Penn State will provide a fixed-cost licensing option at the time the agreement is executed in accordance with the Bayh-Dole Act [PDF].

 Flexible IP Policy

Penn State has developed a menu of options related to intellectual property (IP) resulting from industry sponsored research.  The options include exclusive and non-exclusive rights, and royality-free to one-time up front fee to pre-set royalty structures. Industrial sponsors are free to choose the option that best fits their needs.  

Penn State has set out to improve sponsored research discussions with industry partners by: 

  • Being flexible with intellectual property (IP) when negotiating research agreements 
  • Reducing negotiation times
  • Engaging and empowering researchers in the IP process

For details about Penn State's IP Policies, visit the website:

Office of Vice President for Research

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Visit the Penn State Corporate Engagement Center

When corporate goals align with University priorities, partnerships thrive.  The MRI staff excels in industry engagement in the field of materials research.   We interface with the corporate engagement center staff to extend the conceirge experince beyond the MRI to the other Institutes, the Colleges, and the campus network that makes Penn State special.  The Corporate Engagement Center is here to help make strategic connections with the broader University that build lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.