The University of Arizona plans to spend close to $1 million over the next three years to try to attract more research money from defense and security firms and the U.S military.

The school is launching its new Defense and Security Research Institute as federal funding in general is dwindling and defense spending in particular is poised for decline. The effort is part of President Ann Weaver Hart’s “Never Settle” strategic plan for the university.

That means UA will have to work harder to get a bigger share, said Jennifer Barton, UA’s interim vice president for research.

“It’s critical to pursue it now,” she said.

“In this environment, successful universities will be the ones that can form interdisciplinary teams with industry partners and offer a real value.”

The institute, staffed by a director and a coordinator with an annual budget of around $300,000, will aim to match up the research needs of government and industry with UA expertise, Barton said in an email.

The enterprise “will have funds to invest in communicating our strengths, providing faculty with the knowledge to work with defense agencies, putting together interdisciplinary teams, and crafting winning proposals,” she said.

UA is aiming to double its total research spending from about $600,000 to $1.2 million over the next decade, a performance goal set by the board that oversees the state’s public universities.

Arizona has the fifth largest aerospace and defense economy in the nation, but the military is not now a major contributor of research dollars to the university.

Last school year, for example, UA spent $629 million on all types of research. About $28 million – less than five percent — came from the Defense Department.

“Defense and security have been identified as key areas in which the UA’s strength in science and engineering can help bring in new funding,” a recent news release said.

‘The UA has a lot to offer these agencies but needs to be organized,” Barton said.

The new institute “will provide the necessary infrastructure.”

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at or 573-4138.