MADISON – Research and development spending by Wisconsin’s public and private colleges and universities totaled nearly $1.1 billion in the 2007 federal fiscal year, activity that created about 38,000 direct and indirect jobs.

A report issued Wednesday by the Wisconsin Technology Council charts the source of academic R&D dollars in Wisconsin and makes the connection between that spending and economic activity statewide.

The 44-page report is available online at and print copies can be obtained through the Tech Council.

Follow this link to an on-demand video overview of the report by Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.
Click here to read a story in in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and here to read a report by the Wisconsin Technology Network. Some highlights of the report:

•      Academic research and development activities in Wisconsin totaled about $1.067 billion in the latest year, according to the National Science Foundation. That figure includes science and engineering research by the UW System, the Medical College of Wisconsin and other private colleges and universities.  It does not include about $42 million in S&E research by the Marshfield Clinic and the Blood Center of Wisconsin, or $72 million in non-S&E research at the UW-Madison.

•      Academic R&D is responsible for more than 38,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, in Wisconsin. That is according to an economic multiplier (36 direct and indirect jobs for every $1 million in R&D spending) used for decades by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

•      Academic R&D represents an area where Wisconsin performs well versus other states in attracting federal dollars. Wisconsin is 13th nationally, even without the inclusion of the Marshfield Clinic and the Blood Center of Wisconsin, which don’t fit the traditional NSF definition of academic research institutions.

•      Academic R&D in Wisconsin has continued to grow, but the pace of that growth has slowed in recent years due in part to federal budget priorities.

•      Academic R&D in Wisconsin could be at risk unless state support for the basic science and capital structures supporting such research is maintained. Other states are investing in their academic science and engineering structures because they believe it makes sound economic sense.

The report contains these major recommendations:
•      The governor and Legislature should continue to invest in capital improvement programs, such as the UW-Madison’s Institutes for Discovery, which leverage the assets of academic R&D and help to create spinout companies and jobs.
•      The governor and Legislature should begin, in the 2009-2011 state budget, the process of restoring state support for UW System operations tied to R&D. Although many states have experienced similar budget difficulties, the erosion in the UW budget has been relatively steady for years and cannot continue if the state wants to protect its investment.

•      The potential for more research within the UW System’s comprehensive campuses outside Madison and Milwaukee could be enhanced by freeing qualified professors from some classroom time so they might attract and manage R&D grants. These grants pay for themselves many times over by generating economic activity.
The report notes that of the $1.067 billion in R&D spending by all UW System campuses in the 2007 fiscal year, most ($840.7 million) took place on the UW-Madison campus. However, figures reported by the National Science Foundation also include $54 million in R&D spending combined by other UW System campuses, including (rounded figures): UW-Milwaukee, $40 million; UW-La Crosse, $3.4 million; UW-Stevens Point, $3.1 million; UW-Superior, $2.5 million; UW-Eau Claire, $1.3 million; UW-Oshkosh, $1.1 million; UW-Green Bay, $1 million; UW-Platteville, $540,000; UW-Stout, $360,000; UW-River Falls, $287,000; UW-Whitewater, $223,000; and UW-Parkside, $218,000.

The report says that Wisconsin’s annual academic R&D figures also includes $172 million in research spending by private institutions such as the Medical College of Wisconsin ($158.2 million), Marquette University ($9.74 million), the Milwaukee School of Engineering ($3.74 million), and Lawrence University ($301,000).
“UW-Madison is one of the world’s leading research universities, and its R&D work is bolstering the statewide economy through tech transfer, company creation and more,” said Tom Still, president of the non-profit and non-partisan Tech Council. “However, it’s important to note that academic R&D outside Madison is growing on other private and public campuses, and that work is contributing to the state’s regional economies.”