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Contributions to Iowa Economy | Board of Regents Annual Report 2011

Contributions to Iowa Economy Contributions to Iowa Economy

Iowa’s Public Universities shall contribute to the expansion and diversification
of the Iowa economy

“The economic contributions of Iowa’s Public Universities begin with our students, who bestow the state with highly educated, productive citizens and leaders who are well prepared to meet the needs of Iowa’s workforce of tomorrow.”
  • Regent David W. Miles

Iowa’s Public Universities contribute to the Iowa economy by providing higher education to the people of the state, conducting academic research that results in intellectual property for the marketplace, and providing expertise and assistance directly to Iowa’s people, industry and communities.

The universities’ support for the Iowa economy results from the strength of their core missions. Their economic contributions to the state are fundamentally linked to their overall academic excellence. As a result, the universities attracted $834 million in total sponsored funding dollars in FY 2011, surpassing their sponsored funding goal for the year by nearly $107 million.

Beyond educating Iowans and contributing to the state’s workforce, the universities’ economic contributions to the state take many forms – research, intellectual property development and technology transfer, business incubation and acceleration, technical assistance to local and regional economic development groups and businesses, market research for Iowa companies, and business recruitment and retention. In FY 2011, Iowa’s Public Universities reported $90.4 million in revenue generated by Iowa companies as a direct result of university technologies, and 2,509 Iowans employed at 121 companies at the universities’ research parks and business incubators.


Iowa’s Public Universities are moving forward in FY 2012 with initiatives begun in FY 2011 that will further enhance the universities’ contributions to the state of Iowa.

In September 2011, Iowa’s Public Universities announced the receipt of a $20 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The grant is designed to expand both the state’s research capacity and its national competitiveness for future grants, specifically in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency. This is expected to establish Iowa as a leader in the worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

The core of the research project will be conducted at Iowa’s Public Universities in partnership with the state’s community colleges, private colleges, school districts, government agencies and industries.Through these partnerships, Iowa’s Public Universities will engage Iowans in energy issues and promote the transfer of campus energy inventions to private companies.


The University of Iowa’s Cluster Hire Initiative recognizes the need for scholarship, instruction and public service that is multidisciplinary, engaging several University colleges, departments and/or centers, to collaborate the University’s many strengths in support of today’s most exciting and important research frontiers. The initiative is a five-year plan to develop interdisciplinary faculty clusters to addresses important scientific and/or societal challenges and provide economic and cultural benefits for the people of Iowa, the nation and the world.

The five clusters initiated in FY 2011 are addressing important areas of study dedicated to water sustainability, digital public humanities, the aging mind and brain, obesity and genetics. This pursuit of excellence in innovation, through interdisciplinary research and instruction, will continue with the identification of additional faculty clusters of study over the next several years.

Also at the University of Iowa, development will continue for the STEM Innovation Center, a unique partnership involving faculty from the University, Kirkwood Community College, and the Iowa City Community School District that was created to develop and evaluate new models for STEM education and teacher preparation. The Center, to be developed at the UI Research Park, will provide student access to advanced STEM courses, internships and other on-campus programs, including at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and to the unique research facilities and companies of the UI Research Park.


“The state of Iowa has an opportunity to be a key leader in the bioeconomy, especially given our strength in agriculture and in our research universities.”
– President Craig Lang
Iowa State University is continuing its development of the Biorenewables Complex to advance the University’s teaching and research initiatives in biorenewable resources and enhance the state’s presence as a world center of the emerging bioeconomy. The Biorenewables Research Laboratory was completed in September 2010 and in September 2011 the University broke ground on the Phase 2 project to house the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, one of the top programs in the country for biorenewable resource research and development.


The University of Northern Iowa is continuing with development of the first statewide Research and Development (R&D) school. This statewide R&D school will support every Iowa school district by focusing on Iowa’s educational priorities while creating innovative and promising instructional practices to support the research and development needed by Iowa’s 472,000 K-12 students and 34,600 full-time practicing K-12 teachers.

The R&D school – a collaboration between the University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Education — aims to raise and sustain the level of all Iowa Pre-K through 12 students’ educational attainment and personal development, enhance the preparation and professional competence of Iowa educators and focus on research to meet Iowa’s changing educational needs.

In July 2011, UNI President Ben Allen was named co-chair, with Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, of the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Council. This group was developed to advise the governor on improvements in STEM education, innovation and careers in the public and private sectors, all of which are critical to supporting the education of Iowans for the jobs of the tomorrow. The 40-member council includes the presidents and other leaders from Iowa’s Public Universities, as well as educational, economic and business leaders from across the state of Iowa.