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Bill introduced to add $40M to Research Trust Fund

Mar. 19, 2013 @ 09:24 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Two bills have been introduced in the House of Delegates that would pump additional money into the West Virginia Research Trust Fund.

The fund was established in 2008, with $35 million set aside for West Virginia University and $15 for Marshall University. The two institutions were able to raise funds for research and science that have "matched out" that pool. WVU reached the goal in early 2012, and Marshall officially reached it earlier this year.

House Bill 2163, introduced on Feb. 13, would simply add $20 million into the fund for Marshall and WVU.

The other bill, 2864, was introduced March 7 and is more expansive. That bill adds $25 million, but it allows the other higher education institutions to participate as well. Among those sponsoring the bill are local Delegates Jim Morgan and Doug Reynolds.

Marshall would have access to 25 percent of the fund, or $6.25 million. WVU would have access to 65 percent, or $16.25 million, with the remaining 10 percent, or $2.5 million, available to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Shepherd University, West Liberty State College and West Virginia State University.

The schools would have until June 30, 2015, to reach their match limits.

"We would wholeheartedly support plans to reinvest in the West Virginia Research Trust Fund," said Ginny Painter, the communications director for the Marshall University Research Corporation. "The first round of funding was, by all accounts, a huge success for Marshall University. We surprised a lot of people by meeting the state's challenge of raising the $15 million appropriated for us in the fund. That proves the program can and does work."

She added that several hundred thousand dollars in private donations are waiting to be matched if more money is appropriated for the trust fund. The private funds raised and matched from the trust fund have resulted in the creation of 16 new research endowments at Marshall, Painter said.

The goal of the fund still remains to promote research-based economic development and economic diversification; and increased potential for patenting, licensing and related technology transfer and commercialization of scientific and technological research in the state.

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