Government Relations

Washington Wire

November 2004

In This Edition:

Federal Relations Update

By Kris Andrews

We congratulate the members of Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation on re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and thank them for all they do for higher education and the University of Wisconsin System. We also offer a fond farewell to U.S. Rep. Jerry Kleczka, who has been a steadfast supporter of UW-Milwaukee and our students. Through Congressman Kleczka’s efforts, the Great Lakes WATER Institute has emerged as one of the leading freshwater institutes in this country – from its dockside site in the port of Milwaukee!

A recently released report by the Wisconsin Technology Council, “The Economic Value of Academic Research and Development in Wisconsin,” shows that public and private academic and medical institutions in Wisconsin spent about $883 million on direct research activities in the latest fiscal year. That spending translated to 31,788 jobs, or 36 jobs for every $1 million in research and development.

The report also shows that without Wisconsin’s relatively high ranking in academic research and development, the state would slip out of the top half of all U.S. states in overall research and development spending.

The UW System will continue to look for opportunities to develop collaborative research relationships and for more opportunities to attract research funding. We are particularly grateful to Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation for their leadership in shaping academic research and development policy and support through investments in federal funding.

With no rest for the weary, Congress reconvenes this week to complete its work on the remaining nine FY05 appropriations bills in the form of an omnibus funding package. It is reported that the session will not extend beyond the end of the month and that preparations are already being made for the 109th Congress, where Republicans have added to their majorities in both Houses.

As always, if you have questions or I can be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at or by phone at 608-263-3362.

Academic R&D in Wisconsin

Academic R&D: Big business for Wisconsin

Research and development activities taking place at Wisconsin colleges, universities and affiliates contribute an economic impact of $883 million to Wisconsin's economy each year, gaining ground on the impact of similar activities in the industrial sector, according to a recent report by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Recommendations from "The Economic Value of Academic Research and Development in Wisconsin"Gov. Jim Doyle and the Wisconsin State Legislature should continue to invest in capital improvement programs such as BioStar and HealthStar. These public-private partnerships increase the instructional, research, and outreach capabilities of UW-Madison and provide opportunities for spin-off companies and jobs, according to the report.

  • *Beginning with the 2005-07 state budget, Wisconsin must restore state support for UW System operations. As the report notes, other states are also experiencing budget challenges, but funding for the UW System has steadily decreased in recent years. This trend must be reversed if the state wants to protect its investment.
  • The state should create a "Wisconsin Innovation and Research Fund," which will provide small matching grants to UW System and private college faculty who collaborate with business on R&D, in turn, attracting additional grants from the federal government and corporations.
  • UW-Madison, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Marshfield Clinic should seek out new ways to attract research funding in building on what the report notes are "already strong collaborative research relationships." Following a model in Minnesota with the Mayo Clinic, incentives to conduct inter-institution and interdisciplinary research should be established.
  • Wisconsin's government leaders should explore future growth and follow "best practices" of other states by establishing a commission, which the report suggests could be similar to a task force in Michigan that tracks higher education and economic growth. In addition, 36 jobs are created in the state for every $1 million spent on academic R&D — an impact that could be lost if the state does not invest in public higher education, said Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still.

"You see here at the university a clash of priorities and a clash of resources," Still said. "All of this goes back to the fact that Wisconsin needs a growing economy to make sure all of these priorities are supported."

Nearly $700 million of the total academic research and development spending in the state takes place at UW System institutions, and the bulk of that share at UW-Madison, the system's flagship research university. The findings are a part of a report, "The Economic Value of Academic Research and Development in Wisconsin," issued by the Wisconsin Technology Council, a nonpartisan organization that works to further the creation, development and retention of science- and technology-based businesses in Wisconsin.

Still said the UW System has the long-term infrastructure and talent to remain a national research powerhouse, but that the state has been falling behind other Big Ten states in terms of spending on public higher education. Such state investment is necessary to leverage federal and private research funding, he said.

"If trends continue, we will have no state university or a privatized university by 2040," Still said. "If infrastructure is not kept up, it means R&D dollars are less likely to come here… to bring the things we all want to create jobs and solve problems."

Still added that WiSys, the arm of UW-Madison's Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation that works to bring discoveries from other UW System campuses to the marketplace, is important to spreading the research strength across the system. He cited the example of UW-Milwaukee, where researchers have submitted many proposals for consideration by industry since WiSys was created.

Read the Report:

Academic R&D helps bring federal bucks back to Wisconsin

By Tom Still

MADISON - For reasons that range from the culture of its people to the size of its congressional delegation, Wisconsin is not a magnet for federal dollars. The state ranks 40th among the 50 states in federal "balance of payments," meaning Wisconsin taxpayers send far more money to Washington than they get back. Wisconsin is 45th in per capita federal spending across all programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and even lower in discretionary, or "pork barrel," spending.

In one important category, however, Wisconsin brings home its share of the bacon. When it comes to merit-based competition for academic research and development dollars, Wisconsin moves much closer to the head of the class.

That's one major finding of a recent report by the Wisconsin Technology Council, "The Economic Value of Academic Research and Development in Wisconsin." It concluded that roughly $883 million will be spent on academic research this year in Wisconsin - with about three-quarters of that total coming from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and NASA.

Wisconsin ranks 15th in academic research and development spending, thanks to the quality of research programs at the UW-Madison, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Marshfield Clinic, and other private and public colleges and universities. Researchers in Wisconsin compete on a national basis for federal dollars - and they win more often than not.

Academic research and development is more than just a cottage industry in Wisconsin. It is a major driver of "New Economy" activity that creates high-wage jobs.

The $883 million spent on academic R&D in Wisconsin translates into 31,788 direct and indirect jobs, according to an economic multiplier formula used by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. It estimates 36 jobs are created for every $1 million in academic R&D spending.

If the jobs created by academic research spending in Wisconsin were reported as a separate category within the labor market statistics of the state Department of Workforce Development, it would represent a substantial sector in its own right. For example, paper manufacturing directly employs 39,100 people in Wisconsin, printing 34,700, plastics and rubber products 34,600, and construction of buildings 31,600.

Those kind of job figures merit attention from state policymakers, who have it within their grasp to make - or break - the future of academic research in the state.

Federal research dollars aren't determined by politics or sprinkled about the United States on a per capita basis. In fact, research institutions in a relatively few states received the bulk of the $22 billion spent by federal agencies in fiscal 2002. In general, the states that win federal research grants are those with the right combination of physical infrastructure (such as laboratories), first-rate researchers and in-state support.

Historically, Wisconsin has enjoyed all three. There's a tradition of research on the University of Wisconsin's largest campus in Madison that dates to the late 1800s, and a network of programs and facilities have been built over time. Of late, however, support for that infrastructure has waned. The state of Wisconsin is spending less, per capita, to underwrite academic research than most other states. Even among the Big Ten Conference states, Wisconsin is losing ground.

Protecting the investment in Wisconsin's academic R&D sector starts at home. The federal dollars won't keep rolling in if laboratories fall into disrepair and top-flight professors are recruited to other states. Those competitive federal research dollars will simply go someplace else.

Gov. Jim Doyle and the Wisconsin Legislature must deal with a number of competing priorities as they struggle to keep the state's budget in balance. However, dollars invested in Wisconsin's academic research foundation are a proven producer of jobs, new companies and economic diversity.

--Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.
Reprinted with permission.

Questions or Comments?

Contact Kris Andrews, Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations, UW System.

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