Wisconsin Technology Council Wisconsin Technology Council

The Economic Value of Academic R&D in Wisconsin

To obtain a digital copy of the January 2009 report, download it here by right clicking and selecting "save target as"  (1.3 Meg PDF Document). 

 Here are some highlights of the report’s findings:

  • Academic research and development activities in Wisconsin total 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 used 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 infrastructure supporting such research is maintained. Other states are investing in their infrastructure because they believe it makes sound economic sense.

The report contains these 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.


To obtain a digital copy of the January 2009 report, download it here by right clicking and selecting  "save target as"  (1.3 Meg PDF Document). 

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