UW–Madison Research that Powers the State

The University of Wisconsin–Madison contributes to our state’s economic vitality on a grand scale — engaging in groundbreaking research and equipping its graduates with the academic skills and entrepreneurial spirit needed to thrive in the world’s ever-evolving high technology, knowledge-based economy.

With more than 42,000 students, including more than 9,000 in graduate school, UW–Madison was seventh among public institutions in the number of science and engineering doctorates granted in 2010-2011 (about 1,400 medical degrees and doctoral degrees per year).

In 2009, the campus ranked second among public institutions in science and engineering funding, supporting research that spans from anatomy to zoology, with major nodes at biochemistry; civil, mechanical and electrical engineering; atmospheric science; computer science; chemistry; radiation physics; surgery; stem cells; transplants and human psychology.

In 2010, 133 patents were issued to campus researchers through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and royalties from 269 licenses were yielding $54 million for the university.

This research powerhouse has spawned numerous spinoffs that continue to benefit Wisconsin’s knowledge-based economy:

  • Electronic Theatre Controls, a world leader in lighting equipment for theaters and entertainment, has about 600 employees at its headquarters in Middleton, and offices in Hong Kong, London, Hollywood and New York.
  • Epic Systems of Verona was developed by the UW–Madison scientist who continues to lead it; the firm now has an estimated 5,000 employees and is the world leader in hospital and clinic software, which keeps track of the medical histories of more than 40 million patients.
  • Cellular Dynamics, established by stem-cell pioneers at UW– Madison, is a world leader in using stem cells for drug safety and discovery.
  • Ultratec, the world leader in communication devices and captioned telephone service for the hearing-impaired, employs about 2,000 people, half of them in Madison.
  • Virent Energy Systems is commercializing techniques developed at the College of Engineering to create fuels directly from biomass. Its partners include Shell, Honda and Cargill.

UW–Madison also collaborates with Milwaukee-area institutions:

  • Numerous partnerships have been formed between the departments of radiology and medical physics and GE Healthcare to develop MRI and CT scan technology, including a new, 10-year commitment to cover intellectual property, licensing and new facilities at the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research.
  • Johnson Controls has endowed a joint professorship at UW–Milwaukee and UW–Madison to study energy storage in batteries.
  • A partnership with MillerCoors supports fermentation education and research on campus, and is also intended to produce a stream of talented employees for the brewing giant.
  • Employees at Rockwell Automation are enrolling in the Supply Chain Management program at the School of Business, saving millions for the Milwaukee firm.
  • Three rounds of funding through the Intercampus Research Incentive Grants Program, designed to foster inter-institutional collaboration, have been awarded to groups housed at Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

Enterprises around the state also recognize the impact of the university’s work in their workplaces and hometowns, and in their local economies.
When Mike Brennenstuhl launched Seymour Dairy Products in January 2005, he was armed with market research that pointed toward blue cheese as a potential cornerstone product for his fledgling dairy business — yet, in more than 20 years of cheese making, Brennenstuhl had never made blue cheese. He went to work with John Jaeggi and Mark Johnson, researchers at UW–Madison’s Center for Dairy Research (CDR), which provides
education and technical support for Wisconsin’s dairy-processing industry. Together they perfected a new recipe, called Ader Kase, which was not only an immediate hit with customers, but also an international sensation.

“In 2008, we entered our cheese in the world cheese contest. Out of 63 or 65 cheeses, it took first place. It was the best blue cheese in the world,” Brennenstuhl says. “That cheese was from the original recipe developed by John Jaeggi and myself at the CDR. It still stands today.”

And business is booming. Brennenstuhl’s company now employs 54 people at its plant in Seymour, Wisconsin, with an annual payroll of more than $1.25 million. Seymour Dairy will purchase up to 70 million pounds of Wisconsin milk in 2011 and has recently begun a plant-expansion project to help it meet increasing customer demand.

UW–Madison’s door is always open to new opportunities to work with Wisconsin industries. The main entrance is our Office of Corporate Relations, www.ocr.wisc.edu, which can get you started by connecting your business with the people and resources on campus that can best serve your needs. The schools and colleges, departments and programs within the university can be among your greatest assets in honing a competitive edge to succeed in today’s economic climate.

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