There in the announcement of a new $25.2 million research institute at the University of Texas at Arlington was an enthusiastic endorsement from UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa: "The institute will provide unlimited opportunities for scientific discovery for students, faculty members and private sector partners, not only at UT Arlington, but also nearby UT Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center."The statement underscored a curious aspect of the race to Tier One status: state universities are collaborating at the same time they're competing for limited funds and perhaps more-coveted prestige.Since the Legislature in 2009 created the National Research University Fund, only the University of Houston and Texas Tech have met all the criteria to receive some of the approximately $620 million set aside to help create more top research campuses. UTA and UTD are among the other schools trying to get there.To qualify, a university must have at least $45 million in annual restricted research funds and meet four of six other measures, including an endowment of $400 million, 200 Ph.D.'s awarded a year and a high-quality faculty and freshman class.A June comptroller's report showed that UH spent more than $53 million on research in the 2010-11 fiscal year, had a $590.5 million endowment and awarded 239 Ph.D.'s. Tech spent $50 million, had a $475 million endowment and awarded 232 Ph.D.'s. (bit.ly/Tb1kc0)The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported that UTA and UTD have met the criteria for high-achieving freshman class and belonging to a scholarly society; UTD also has met the high-quality faculty standard. (bit.ly/RhdO5N)UTA spent $66 million on sponsored research in 2011, President Jim Spaniolo's annual report says (bit.ly/PR3rXT), but only about half that counted toward the Tier One measurement. UTD is the closest of the schools to hitting that mark.Work at UTA's research centers could enable UTD to leverage more funding that helps it qualify for state support.The Tier One competition has stimulated aggressive efforts to boost science and technology opportunities on campuses, and that benefits students, faculty and eventually state taxpayers.