Ray CrossFor Wisconsin to succeed in today’s knowledge economy, we must continue to capitalize on the strengths of higher education institutions that serve as engines of economic renewal and talent development.

Investments in our public colleges, universities, and extension networks boost workforce development while stimulating job creation. These investments yield tremendous returns.

Today, the economic annual impact of the UW System is estimated to be at least $20 billion, leveraging $1.1 billion in annual general purpose revenue (GPR) funding.

The following pages highlight our progress in identifying and building strong connections that link UW System talent and research activities with established businesses, entrepreneurs, and economic development agencies. We are accelerating our investments in UW-generated innovations, so that ideas can be more rapidly developed, and businesses can be built more quickly. These efforts strengthen our communities and provide a strong basis for job creation statewide.

Ray Cross, President, UW System

Grant Recipients

UW-Eau Claire

The Responsible Mining Initiative at UW-Eau Claire seeks to train and educate responsible mining professionals with backgrounds in geology, hydrogeology, restoration ecology, and regulatory policy. This is the first program of its kind in the Upper Midwest. This program has allowed UW-Eau Claire to sign eight MOUs during the grant period that created a 150% increase in high-paying summer internships with a total of 19 student interns in the last two years. These internships provided students valuable experience with mining companies. The Responsible Mining Initiative has attracted increased funding to the Department from the private and public sector, producing additional funds for further grants and scholarships. Donations to the department of Geology have seen a 186% increase, and industry scholarship money for Geology majors has increased by $38,500 since the beginning of the program. New formal partnerships with five companies has created additional opportunities to connect industry with learning.

Find more information on the UW-Eau Claire website and the 2014-2015 Report pdf .

mining salariesmining donations

UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and UW- Oshkosh

Nurses for Wisconsin logoThe Nurses for Wisconsin program, led by UW-Eau Claire with collaboration from UW-Oshkosh, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Madison and UW-Green Bay, is a statewide initiative to increase nursing-program faculty by expanding student enrollment and enhancing workforce development in health care. Working to address anticipated future nursing shortages, the program has awarded 41 PhDs, Doctorate of Nursing Practitioner (DNP) fellows, and post-doctoral fellows. Additionally, the program helped retain 10 crucial nursing faculty through the loan forgiveness feature of the program and provided a total of 51 awards.

Find more information on the UW-Eau Claire website and the 2014-2015 Report pdf .


gtamThe Ideadvance Capital Catalyst program provides Wisconsin businesses with seed and early-stage funding to accelerate the commercialization of technology emanating from Wisconsin entrepreneurs, including faculty, staff, and students affiliated with UW System four-year campuses and the UW Colleges’ two-year campuses. To date, the program has assisted 33 new or early-stage business ventures, with nearly half of the assistance going to current, student-led ventures. Grant amounts given directly to businesses included $25,000 grants for stage-one businesses and $50,000 grants for stage-two businesses. Additionally, the program created 16 new internships/work experiences for students.

For more information, visit the Ideadvance website and the 2014-2015 Report pdf .nanaoaffix

UW-La Crosse

Data drives key decisions in all industries, and the Statistical Consulting Center (SCC) provides services to understand large complex data sets as well as statistical process control, statistical modeling, experimental design in decision-making, and survey design and analysis. This grant has allowed the Center to expand their services beyond campus to serve the broader La Crosse community. The two divisions now operate separately with different directors.

In these first two years of operation, the Center has served 15 new clients with 16 completed projects and created 15 internships. Through the funds collected for their services, the Center has been able to fund continuing operations beyond the conclusion of the grant period (at a scaled-back level).

Faculty members in the Mathematics Department head the center, but statistics majors and students with actuarial science concentrations provide some of the consulting.

statistical consulting

Find more information on the UW-La Crosse website and the 2014-2015 Report pdf .


at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Sept. 30, 2014. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)The Igniter project serves as a primary resource to support UW-Madison’s “Discovery-to-Product” (D2P) initiative that helps to advance the commercialization of technologies and support business incubation and product development. D2P has already received more than 200 ideas through its calls for innovation. d2p logoThe project accepted 15 proposals into an inaugural cohort that completed a structured workshop program to begin to move them from technical proof-of-concept out to commercialization. The project has awarded more than $1 million, fostered the creation of six startups, and laid the foundation for additional startup and licensing opportunities for six other projects.

Find more information on the D2P website and the 2014-2015 Report pdf .

UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, UW-Whitewater

Fred Binkowski and a student assistant extracting eggs from a spawning fish near the fish tanks at the School of Freshwater Sciences. Photographed for the Alumni Magazine.

“Intensive Aquaculture” is a newly expanding industry born from research and technology developed at the UW‐Milwaukee (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences (SFS).

Wisconsin is on the forefront of sustainable private intensive aquaculture production, which is expected to significantly increase the already established annual $1 billion industry in the United States.

To continue to facilitate this growth, UWM, in collaboration with UW‐Whitewater, UW‐Parkside, and the technical colleges in southeastern Wisconsin, launched a Research and Training Center for Commercialization of Intensive Aquaculture and Aquaponics, which is providing the resources, support, and infrastructure to grow this industry. To date, more than 35 jobs have been created, and the Center is providing a foundation for new technologies, startups, and additional investment into a rapidly growing industry. The Center has already assisted eight businesses, produced three new technologies, and attracted $150,000 in private-sourced funding and more than $1,190,000 in government grants.

aquaculture2Additionally, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater, and water industry partners have launched a Water Technology Accelerator (WaTA) to develop new intellectual property (IP) and technologies with direct commercial application as identified by Wisconsin water companies.

To date, 14 businesses have been assisted through the Accelerator and 10 jobs created. The Center has seen increased collaboration between researchers and corporate entities, and the program has helped the Water Council investment fund grow to $2.5 million through the addition of outside funds.

Find more information in the 2014-2015 Report pdf .

UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside

applied chemistryWith over 96% of all manufactured goods involving technologies of chemistry, it is essential that Wisconsin’s companies are supplied with world-class chemistry resources and an exceptionally well-trained workforce. The Incentive Grant funding has raised the SE WI Applied Chemistry Center of Excellence’s capacity to offer critical advanced technical training to students, has increased partnerships and collaborations, and has increased the Center’s competiveness in a global market. The Incentive Grant helped the SE WI Applied Chemistry Center of Excellence:applied chemistry2

  • Fund $114,000 in internship awards for 48 students that engaged diverse WI employers seeking critical need skills.
  • Purchase the equipment necessary to secure more than $2.5 million in additional grant funding for innovative research.
  • Secure a $1.13 million corporate partnership with Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Inc.
  • Fund $749,320 in research grants that linked with 12 WI companies to improve technologies, launch new products, raise awareness for critical workforce needs, and provide additional growth opportunities for large and small companies.
  • Assist 24 businesses and produce over 62 graduates in high-demand fields.

Find more information in the 2014-2015 Report pdf .


UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater

water1 The global water technology market—currently worth $483 billion—is the world’s fastest growing market. Experts predict it could double in value by 2035. Southeast Wisconsin already owns 5% of this market. To remain ahead of stringent global competition and to further increase its market share, Wisconsin’s water industry needs innovative research that generates technological breakthroughs across all sector segments.

water2UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater, and water industry partners have launched a Water Technology Accelerator (WaTA) to develop new intellectual property (IP) and technologies with direct commercial application as identified by Wisconsin water companies.

To date, 14 businesses have been assisted through the Accelerator and 10 jobs created. The Center has seen increased collaboration between researchers and corporate entities, and the program’s investment fund has grown to $2.5 million through the addition of outside funds.

Find more information in the 2014-2015 Report pdf .

UW-Oshkosh, UW-Green Bay

collaboration and technology As demand for highly trained talent increases for regional manufacturers, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay partnered to increase accessibility in high-demand areas for portions of northern Wisconsin. The goals for this program are to create a skilled and educated workforce to meet the needs of regional manufacturers and to grow companies in a wide range of fields.

Students are given the option of starting this program at any one of 12 NEW-ERA university or technical college campuses across the region and complete the engineering technology degree at UW-Oshkosh or UW-Green Bay in one of three high-demand sequences:

  • Electrical engineering technology
  • Environmental engineering technology
  • Mechanical engineering technology.

engineer your worldThe innovative program breaks new ground in providing easy access for northeastern Wisconsin students to pursue and obtain engineering skills that regional manufacturers find critical for their workforce.

In the first two years of the program, six new faculty have been hired, and more than 40 students have declared Engineering Technology as their major by the end of the 2015 school year. With more than 50 businesses serving on the advisory board for the program, the program has benefitted from this input and introduced new technology into the classrooms to give students the critical skills necessary to succeed in industry. An Introduction to Engineering Technology has also been introduced in local high schools to provide an early pathway for students.

Find more information in the 2014-2015 Report pdf .

UW-Stevens Point

celluloseHolding wooden chipsThe UW-Stevens Point Cellulose Pilot & Processing lab is accelerating the development of renewable materials, green chemicals, and biofuels industries through collaborative research and piloting facilities made available to major manufacturers, small startups, biotechnology entrepreneurs, and academics. The fermentation laboratory is assisting Wisconsin-based paper companies in addressing waste management in environmentally-friendly methods.  Increased marketing is bringing awareness about the accessibility of this key resource to industry partners.  By serving a combination of private and academic institutions, the CPPL is gaining a reputation as a go-to facility for biomass and bio-based chemical research and development and is directly contributing to the development of this new industry in the upper Midwest. Over two years, this program has created 14 jobs, retained ten jobs, signed nondisclosure agreements with 22 companies in agriculture, forest products, biotechnology, and paper industries, and assisted 15 businesses through advanced technical support and/or market analyses.

For more information, visit the UW-Stevens Point website and the 2014-2015 Report pdf .

cppl ast

UW-Stevens Point

packing 1  focal pointPackaging represents the second-largest overall driver industry in Wisconsin. This incentive grant provided investment in cutting-edge equipment which has increased industry-facing testing capacity. To promote the high-demand industry, this initiative created three new industry networking events that include high-level nationally recognized company speakers and hands-on workshops focused on learning cutting-edge technology. The addition of the cutting-edge equipment allowed for the development of additional hands-on courses to assist the paper industry in developing and retaining high-quality employees.

This grant also facilitated the trademark and commercialization of a new specialty paper product and fostered new capabilities for a partnership with a major national supplier of high-quality art papers: Strathmore, a division of Pacon Corporation, in Appleton. Pacon is a leading producer and marketer of paper products for education, including construction paper and other teacher resources. As the exclusive producer of the new line of paper, UW-Stevens Point receives a modest royalty for the production. The range of the products is available in national retail outlets including Hobby Lobby, Staples, and Dick Blick. Strathmore benefited from avoiding upfront development costs, which continues to open up new market opportunities as the commercial relationship endures beyond the period of the grant under a five-year supply agreement.

packing 2Collectively, this program has:

  • Assisted 36 businesses
  • Provided hands-on training to 89 individuals
  • Created more than 7 internships
  • Created 2 jobs
  • Retained 16 jobs
  • Fostered 18 repeat-business customers

Find more information in the 2014-2015 Report pdf .

UW-Stevens Point, UW-Extension

Aquaponics Innovation CenterWisconsin is on the cutting edge of the emerging industry of aquaponics, a self-sustaining system that allows plants and aquatic life, such as fish, crabs, etc., to be symbiotically raised commercially. The Aquaculture Business Incubator and Aquaponic Innovation Center grant assisted in the construction of the first-of-its-kind applied research and education center through a private public partnership.

emerging agriculture

Additionally, the grant provided a foundation for industry expansion through receipt of $1,152,396 in additional outside grant funding as a result of work initiated through the incentive grant.

Replication Systems of the UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center

UW-Extension personnel as a result of this grant collaborated with Wisconsin Senators to develop proposed legislation that would improve the business climate in WI for aquaculture industry development.

The program has offered the first-of-its-kind professional Aquaponics certificate, and as of 2015, enrolled seven students, and graduated one student in the first year of operation. Offering 13 continuing education and technical training courses and various workshops, the programs has served 2,692 participants. Working directly with industry, the grant has helped create 65 jobs, retain more than 120 jobs, assist 95 businesses, and provide 26 internships/work experiences to students.

Find more information on the UW-Stevens Point website and the 2014-2015 Report pdf .