UW System infuses state with $22.5 million for economic development

    The University of Wisconsin System will deploy $22.5 million over the next two years in 12 Wisconsin projects designed to spur economic growth and create jobs in the state.

    “Two of our main areas of focus for these projects were economic development and job creation,” said Tim Higgins, member of the UW System board of regents and the current chair of the Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee. A third was to improve the affordability of postsecondary education in the state.

    “Outside of those areas of focus we left the request for proposals very general, which was somewhat unique. Generally grant requests are very specific. It was a different experience for many, but we were extraordinarily pleased with the number and the varied project ideas we received.”

    The UW System received 56 requests for grants, many of which focused on collaborative efforts that included, in some cases, multiple UW Campuses and public and private business throughout the state, Higgins said.

    Collaboration was a theme throughout the process.

    “This was a great opportunity for the UW System and our state legislators to come together and collaborate on a project that will do so much for the state of Wisconsin,” he said.

    The UW-System, in partnership with the legislature, formed a selection committee of 15 Wisconsin professionals from universities, business and industries throughout the state.
    The committee consisted of seven representatives from the UW System and eight representatives from the business community.

    Committee members narrowed the pool of applicants to 15 and from there narrowed it to 12.
    Higgins was quick to point out that those committee members from selected universities or those with connections to certain university projects were asked to recuse themselves from the voting.
    Selected projects have until June 30, 2015 to utilize the funds granted in the program. Part of the selection criteria included sustainability requirements and Higgins hopes more funds can be written into the next biennial budget for other future projects.

    “Part of the Wisconsin Idea is emphasizing that our campuses can be a dynamic economic engine for the state of Wisconsin, and these projects exemplify those efforts,” Higgins said.


    Incentive Grant Projects

    $3.22 million
    UW-Eau Claire,
    A statewide initiative to address the nursing shortage

    $3 million
    Establishment of a Water Accelerator and subsequent grant opportunities for researchers in water technologies

    $2.99 million
    Establishment of a SE Wisconsin Applied Chemistry Center of Excellence

    $2.84 million
    UW-Stevens Point
    Establishment of the Cellulose Pilot and Processing Lab

    $2.45 million
    Establishment of the Research and Training Center for Commercialization of Intensive Aquaculture and Aquaponics

    $2.4 million
    Igniter, an engine for Technology Commercialization

    $1.89 million
    UW-Green Bay
    Ongoing development of the Collaborative Engineering-Technology program

    $1.45 million
    UW-Stevens Point
    Economic Development through innovation in specialty papers, packaging and converting

    $1 million
    Establishment of the Capital Catalyst Commercialization Seed
    Fund with WEDC match

    UW-Stevens Point,
    Establishment of an Aquaculture Business Incubator and Aquaponic Innovation Center

    UW-Eau Claire
    Establishment of the Responsible Mining Initiative: Building an educated STEM Workforce for the Natural Resource Industry centered on sustainability

    Expansion of the Statistical Consulting Center to serve business needs throughout the state



    Incentive Grant Selection Committee

    • Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council, Milwaukee
    • Kris Andrews, assistant vice president for federal relations, UW System, Madison
    • Mark Bugher, retired director of the University Research Park, Madison
    • Rob Cramer, vice chancellor for administrative services, UW-Platteville
    • Nick DeMarco, president and founder of Practichem, Burlington
    • David Eckmann, special assistant to the chancellor for economic development, UW-Stevens Point
    • Reed Hall, CEO and secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Madison
    • Charlie Goff, venture capitalist and president of NEW Capital Management, Little Chute
    • Mark Lange, executive director of the Division of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, UW-Extension
    • Alan Perlstein, executive director, Wisconsin Energy Research Consortium, Milwaukee
    • Toni Sikes, chair of the Wisconsin Technology Council and Co-founder of the Art Commission, Madison
    • Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council and its subsidiary, the Wisconsin Innovation Network, Madison
    • Mark Tyler, president and founder of OEM Fabricators, Inc. & public member/past president of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board and UW System Regent Emeritus
    • Julia Wallace, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, UW-Green Bay
    • Shannon Zimmerman, founder and CEO of Sajan, Inc., River Falls

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