Building Wisconsin’s economy

UW–Madison is a powerful economic engine for the state of Wisconsin. Academic programs are constantly adapting to meet the needs of state business and industry. Faculty research is spurring innovations that lead to new companies and high-paying Wisconsin jobs. Direct services to the business community are keeping the state competitive.

Knowledge workforce: UW–Madison graduates approximately 9,000 students every year from a broad range of academic programs. The BadgerCareers site to find thousands of well-educated people who graduate from UW–Madison, or explore the talent pools from other Wisconsin colleges and technical schools.

Building our own business: University Research Park now is home to 126 companies and counting — many of which are based in biotechnology and life sciences — employing more than 3,500 people. The park has been so successful that the university is building Research Park Phase 2, which will bring an estimated 200 companies and 15,000 new jobs to Dane County.

Discovery on the horizon: The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery plays a key role in facilitating the technology transfer from lab to business. A public-private partnership that combines $100 million in private gift support and a $50 million commitment from the state, the institutes bring together scientists from a broad spectrum of disciplines to attack the problems of disease, advance regenerative medicine and solve other important problems.

Biotech blooms: The master’s in biotechnology degree program is creating a new generation of talent for Wisconsin’s fast-growing biotech industry, named one of the nation’s top five biotech “hotspots” by Forbes magazine. Launched in 2002, the program has produced more than 300 graduates, with 50-60 new students each year.

Natural-born leaders: UW–Madison is ranked fourth in the nation for the largest number of graduates serving as CEOs of companies in the Fortune 500 Index.

Transferring benefits: The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which supports university research through patenting and licensing services, received the National Medal of Technology in 2005, the highest honor granted by the President of the United States for innovation in using technology to better the economy and the lives of citizens.

In good company: Executive education, based at the Fluno Center on the UW–Madison campus, each year offers more than 200 public programs covering 80 business topics, as well as numerous custom programs for companies worldwide. One of the largest executive education programs in the United States, in 2010 it served more than 500 Wisconsin companies. In 2009, Executive Education was named the “Best School for Continuing Education” by Corporate Report Wisconsin, the state’s most widely read business magazine.

Sustaining Dairyland: The Center for Dairy Profitability looks for new strategies to help Wisconsin dairy farms thrive, including an innovative online program directed at beginning dairy farmers. With more than 12,700 farms, the dairy industry has a $26.5 billion impact on Wisconsin’s economy, but faces new challenges from California and Southwest competition.

Corporate portal: The Office of Corporate Relations, which works to strengthen the state’s economy by serving as an initial point of contact for university resources, made more than 620 company contacts and 130 presentations to companies and groups. The office also responded to 744 requests for information and assistance during the past year, the majority of those from Wisconsin companies.

Startup support: The MG&E Innovation Center, located in the University Research Park, has helped more than 70 early stage companies take flight since opening in 1989. Demand is so strong that the center is planning to double its capacity.

Listening to industry: The College of Engineering has more than a dozen research consortia that provide a direct pipeline for sharing expertise with government and industry. Companies benefit by seeing work in progress, helping set research directions, and interacting with faculty and students.

Bread-and-butter business: Family businesses account for 78 percent of all new job creation, yet most family business ventures fail in their first attempt. The Family Business Center has helped hundreds of Wisconsinites maintain a profitable business and successfully pass ownership to the next generation.