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Governor, University Presidents Recognize Record Research Funding

July 29, 2004 — Thursday, Gov. Olene Walker and the presidents of Utah’s two flagship research universities recognized combined record research funding revenues of nearly a half billion dollars this past fiscal year at the University of Utah and Utah State University.

Walker, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Kendell, University of Utah President-Designate Michael K. Young and Utah State University President Kermit L. Hall gathered Thursday at the governor’s office to emphasize that the state’s public research universities significantly benefit Utah’s economy, not just its education.

“This impressive revenue sum demonstrates the commitment of our research universities, our board of regents and our state to research and innovation and to growth in our economy,” said Walker. “I have often said that education is the fuel for economic development, and recognizing this revenue today puts an emphatic stamp of validation on that statement.”

During fiscal year 2004, which ended June 30, the University of Utah surpassed the $300 million mark for the first time. It garnered more than $309 million in research grants, fellowships for graduate students and financial aid for undergraduates, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. Virtually all of this money came from sources outside the state. In light of these grants, the University of Utah ranked 27th nationally among 199 major public research universities, a remarkable accomplishment for a state with a relatively small population. During that same period, Utah State University received a record $186 million, an 18 percent jump from the previous year. Both universities have more than doubled their research revenues in the last decade.

“The wisdom of the Legislature has allowed our universities to reinvest in research, and as a result we are seeing these kinds of outcomes,” said Hall.

Hall said that using even the most conservative economic multipliers, these research revenues translate into billions of dollars for Utah’s economy.

“This money represents economic security for thousands of Utah’s citizens,” Hall said. “Our Space Dynamics Lab alone brought in $63 million this year, employing more than 200 scientists, engineers and other professionals.”

Young said this research money produces extraordinary benefits, both direct and indirect, to the Utah economy; it does not just stay on campus.

“Research conducted at our universities leads to inventions and innovations that are licensed to private entrepreneurs who convert these academic advances into new business that employ thousands of Utah residents and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues,” Young said.

The latest estimates from University of Utah Research Park show that more than 6,000 Utah residents are employed there, and Research Park businesses generate annual revenues of more than $550 million. Utah State University’s Innovation Campus employs approximately 1,100 people and brings in more than $300 million in taxable revenues.

Figures from the University of Utah’s Technology Transfer Office show that 64 startup companies are in business because of technology obtained from the University of Utah in exchange for payment of royalties to the university. Of those 64 companies, 60 have operations in Utah, employing thousands of Utah residents.

This past June, the U.S. Department of Commerce named Utah State University’s Innovation Campus winner of the 2004 Economic Development Award for its efforts in rural economic development for successfully starting 57 new companies since its inception 18 years ago.

Walker also referenced the upcoming higher education summit this fall where she plans to bring higher education leaders together to discuss how they can more effectively transfer the technology and innovation fostered at their institutions into the private sector. By encouraging this process of cooperation, Walker hopes to spur economic growth and increased job creation.