OSC is unique in that nearly all research is sponsored, funded by contracts from industry or governmental agencies. Faculty members partner with scientists, researchers, engineers and administrators from industry, government and academia to conduct the leading-edge research that powers the future of the world’s high-technology industries

The college, and the University, provide support services to assist researchers in identifying and obtaining external collaborators. OSC's first points of contact are the Contracts and Grants staff. On the University level, useful departments include the Office of Research and Contract Analysis, the Office of Technology Transfer and Sponsored Projects Services.

Since 2000, when Arizona voters approved a sales tax increase to help expand Arizona's economic base, OSC research and technology development in photonics and imaging has also been partially supported by the Technology and Research Initiative Funding.