PHOENIX - The board governing Arizona's three public universities recently approved $240 million in funding proposals for technology and research advancements.

The Arizona Board of Regents signed off on three-year plans for $32 million a year each for Arizona State University and the University of Arizona and $16 million annually for Northern Arizona University through the Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF).

"Our universities are on the leading edge of innovative research and development that will benefit Arizona and the world long into the future," ABOR Chairwoman Lyndel Manson said in a press release last week.

"These dollars will fund critical research that ensures ASU, NAU and UArizona to continue to act as problem-solvers and promote the long-term prosperity, health, security and strength of Arizona communities."

Each school's proposal focused on five areas of research: improving health; water, environment and energy solutions; national security systems; space exploration and optical solutions; and workforce development.

"From advancements in health care to cybersecurity and water conservation, our universities are developing and bringing to market the technologies that are improving the lives of Arizona families every day," ABOR Executive Director John Arnold said in the release.

ASU's projects include developing methods for rapid COVID-19 detection and creating a coalition with private health care groups for researching long COVID.

UArizona's list includes expanding cyberdefense initiatives to combat phishing, ransomware and other threats.

At NAU, plans include continued support for the school’s access and workforce development programs.

TRIF was established in 2001 as part of Proposition 301 and is funded with sales tax revenue.

"We recognize this funding is made possible through sales tax dollars being spent in our state every day by the people of Arizona - they are our investors, and our universities are held accountable for their investment by providing groundbreaking research that drives direct, real solutions for the citizens of Arizona," Regent Fred DuVal said in the release.