Don’t cut research in a knowledge economy, tech chiefs say

University Research Park

Don’t cut research in a knowledge economy, tech chiefs say

University Research Park and UW-Madison continue to be significant catalysts for job creation in Wisconsin.

“Dane County is creating 73% of the net new jobs in Wisconsin, and that is all being driven by UW-Madison and companies in the technology ecosystem that surround the university,” said Aaron Olver, managing director of Madison’s University Research Park and a former state commerce secretary.

Don’t cut research in a knowledge economy, tech chiefs say

By John Schmid & Kathleen Gallagher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Carl Gulbrandsen, whose job is to convert research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison into commercial businesses, needed less than a nanosecond Thursday to begin itemizing specific ways the school has enhanced the state’s economy.

While pulling in $1.1 billion in research funding annually, he pointed out, UW-Madison has fostered new patents, attracted private investment, spun off multiple start-up companies, and helped Madison recruit offices for the likes of life-sciences innovator Illumina, Swiss health care group Roche, California software developer Zendesk and technology giant Google.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that they want to tamper with that,” said Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patenting and licensing arm of the university.

Gulbrandsen’s reaction echoed that of many academics and researchers, whose enthusiasm for the Wisconsin Idea — the 111-year-old mission statement at the heart of the state’s higher-education system — turned to anxiety after Gov. Scott Walker this week proposed $300 million in cuts to the UW System over the next two years.

Many in the academic community expressed alarm that Walker appeared to be rewriting the mission statement to replace its high-minded ideals with language focused on meeting “the state’s workforce needs.” The Wisconsin Idea essentially states that the UW System’s mission is to improve citizens’ lives through teaching, research, outreach and public service.

University research has propelled knowledge-based economies around the country, including such powerhouses as Silicon Valley, metropolitan Boston and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. It has also helped to make Madison the job-creation engine for Wisconsin for the past decade. Read more …