Board of Regents

Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee - July 2013

Minutes of the Research, Economic Development, & Innovation Committee
University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents
1820 Van Hise
Madison, WI
July 11, 2013

Chairman Higgins convened the meeting of the Research, Economic Development, and Innovation (REDI) Committee at 1:03 pm. Regents Pruitt, Bradley, Drew, Farrow, Hribar, Petersen, and Whitburn were present.

a. Approval of the Minutes of the June 6, 2013 Meeting of the Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee

Chairman Higgins asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the June 6, 2013, REDI Committee meeting. Motion by Regent Whitburn, seconded by Regent Bradley, to approve the minutes as presented. Motion carried unanimously.

b. Discussion of Potential Faculty Incentives and Rewards Related to Undergraduate Research Excellence, Economic Development, and Innovation - Panel Discussion

Chairman Higgins welcomed the panelists listed below who participated in the second in a series of discussions on high impact practices, including undergraduate research that support the strategic career and business development initiatives that fall within the purview of the REDI Committee. Mark Tyler led the panel discussion, which focused on potential faculty incentives and rewards related to research, economic development, and innovation.

  • Dr. Mitchell Malachowksi -- University of San Diego Professor of Chemistry and Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) Mentor and Past President
  • Dr. Karen Havholm -- Director, UW-Eau Claire Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration
  • Dr. Dean Van Galen -- Chancellor, UW-River Falls

Dr. Mitchell Malachowski highlighted the impact undergraduate research (URG) has on both faculty and students, along with how the UW System can strengthen and expand its position as a national leader in undergraduate research. He discussed undergraduate research lessons learned and best practices that were addressed at NSF workshops and Consortium programs, which the UW System and institution officials attended.

Lessons Learned from Systems/Consortia

  • Challenges for System/Consortium level administrators include:
    • Getting accurate information about the status of UGR on different campuses
    • Configuring prospective assistance to match widely varying campus needs
    • Figuring out how to get widely different campuses to share a reasonably consistent vision for UGR
    • Maintaining a shared vision when personnel change at both the campus and system levels.

Best Campus Practices in Undergraduate Research

  • Departments/campuses have a vision for why they do research
  • Campuses determine the purpose of including students (enhancing admissions, retention, diversity efforts, intellectual climate, increased external funding, increasing numbers of students going to graduate school, economic development, etc.)
  • There is widespread input and acceptance of this vision
  • They align their vision with goals and strategies
  • They target resources to their goals
  • There is faculty buy-in that includes incentives and a lowering of barriers to participation

Dr. Malachowski concluded by noting a number of ways for the UW System to advance as a national leader in undergraduate research, including:

  • Working on enhancing undergraduate research as a System rather than as individual institutions
  • Identify leaders on each campus who will lead this effort
  • Share best practices through a systemwide network
  • Provide support for each individual campus through a systemwide grants program
  • Think beyond the UW System - How do you share what you know/are learning with others?

Dr. Karen Havholm discussed her experience with undergraduate research at UW - Eau Claire from the perspective of a faculty member and highlighted the opportunities, challenges, and lessons learned from undergraduate research at a UW System comprehensive institution. She noted the positive impact undergraduate research has on retention and graduation rates, professional preparedness for the workforce, and on applied research activities that enhance the community. She concluded by discussing challenges facing faculty engaged with undergraduate research and strategies for overcoming the challenges.

Dr. Dean Van Galen discussed how UW System institutions can support faculty and students engaged with undergraduate research. He also noted how undergraduate research helps both faculty and students to grow, along with the need to bring the role of research more into the classroom. Dr. Van Galen also stated that undergraduate research needs to be more involved in institutions' strategic planning processes and planning goals. He noted that the greatest challenges to undergraduate research are time restrictions due to faculty teaching obligations and resource allocations.

The panelists responded to questions from Mark Tyler and REDI Committee members, which focused on a number of topics and issues pertaining to their areas of expertise, including:

  • The role and opportunities undergraduate research has for economic development and student achievement
    • The panelists noted studies have shown that undergraduate research improves retention and graduation rates and improves/develops students' professional skills.
    • Dr. Malachowski noted the negative consequences of faculty not engaging undergraduates in research.
  • The challenges to undergraduate research, including: material and monetary resources, faculty incentives and rewards, faculty time/workload, campus/department culture and attitudes towards undergraduate research.
  • Enlisting businesses early in the process to help institutions focus and succeed with economic development and undergraduate research initiatives.

Mark Tyler thanked the panelists for their participation in this discussion and for their leadership in helping to develop a research climate across the UW System.

c. Economic Development - Focus on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), its Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Focus, and its unique collaboration with UW System to support the WiSys Technology Foundation.

Chairman Higgins noted that in December 2012, with the leadership of then REDI Committee Chairman Mark Bradley, the REDI Committee adopted the UW System Economic Development Road Map, a multi-year strategic plan. Chair Higgins also reminded REDI Committee members that there are 20 action items to support these three strategic priorities and that a status update document is provided at every committee meeting. These action items have been designed to align with WEDC and State priorities.

  • Communication - Raising awareness of commitment to economic and business development by the UW System;
  • Connection - Identifying and building stronger connections that link UW System talent and research with business and industry, as a contemporary reaffirmation of The Wisconsin Idea;
  • Capital - Accelerating investment in UW-generated innovation so that concepts can be more rapidly developed and commercialized.

Chairman Higgins introduced WEDC Chief Operating Officer Ryan Murray and Vice President Lisa Johnson, who then gave a report on the WEDC economic development and on its efforts to support entrepreneurship and innovation.

  • Ryan Murray gave a brief overview of the role that WEDC plays in collaborating and partnering with the UW System to improve and promote economic development.
  • He noted that 36 out of the 37 advanced industries in Wisconsin are in manufacturing, and that a priority of WEDC collaborating with the UW System is to help support the growth of these established industries.
  • He also noted the need to diversify Wisconsin's industries by supporting the growth of the industries of tomorrow, so that we aren't so heavily reliant upon manufacturing alone.

WEDC Vice President Lisa John then discussed the importance of WEDC and the UW System being partners in driving economic development in Wisconsin by helping to fund and support start-up businesses.

  • She stated many universities and systems across the country are working with businesses and entrepreneurs to fund start-ups and to facilitate the move from research to commercialization.
  • She noted the current work and support that UW System institutions are providing to start-up and existing businesses throughout Wisconsin, along with the importance of the UW-Extension in assisting businesses bringing ideas and research to commercialization.
  • She also reviewed the WEDC proposal to provide $500,000 in match grant funding to the UW System from the Capital Catalyst Fund to seed start-up businesses, if the UW System can provide $500,000 from the Incentive Grant funds in each year of the biennium.

Chairman Higgins thanked WEDC Chief Operating Officer Ryan Murray and Vice President Lisa Johnson for their presentations and noted their presentations are timely and useful as UW institutions prepare and submit their Economic Development Incentive Grant proposals.

Chair Higgins stated that in light of the new funding arrangements with UW System and WEDC, and in light of the changes made to the WiSys governance structure, he called on the REDI Committee and the UW Board of Regents to recognize the importance and efficacy of this arrangement by adopting Resolution I.4.c.

[Resolution I.4.c.]
That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, and subject to approval by the state Department of Administration and the legislative Joint Committee on Finance, the Board of Regents supports the assignment of a portion of UW System economic development incentive funds as match funding for WEDC grants, to foster commercialization and business start-up activity across the state and to take advantage of the fund commitment from WEDC. This will allow the funds to be directed to businesses and start-ups with oversight from WiSys.

Motion by Regent Hribar, seconded by Regent Bradley, to approve Resolution I.4.c. Chairman Higgins then called for a discussion of the resolution.
Regent Drew questioned why the resolution only called for a portion of the UW economic development incentive grant funds instead of a specific amount. He noted the WEDC matching grant requires a $500,000 match each year of the biennium and suggested the resolution be amended to reflect the $500,000 annual match ($1 million total) requirement.

Upon the motion by Regent Drew and the second of Regent Farrow, the Committee unanimously approved Resolution I.4.c. as amended.

[Amended Resolution I.4.c.]

That, upon the recommendation of the President of the University of Wisconsin System, and subject to approval by the state Department of Administration and the legislative Joint Committee on Finance, the Board of Regents supports the assignment of up to $500,000 each year of the biennium of UW System economic development incentive funds as match funding for WEDC grants, to foster commercialization and business start-up activity across the state and to take advantage of the fund commitment from WEDC. This will allow the funds to be directed to businesses and start-ups with oversight from WiSys.

Chairman Higgins noted that the REDI Committee will be involved in the process of reviewing the Incentive Grant plans and proposals, and that the Committee may meet outside of the next Board of Regents meeting via teleconference to discuss the Incentive Grants Program in the coming weeks.

Chairman Higgins adjourned the meeting at 2:33 pm.