MADISON – Less than a year after being awarded the inaugural UW System Incentive Grants, the 12 recipients are now posting their first progress reports online, and showing significant progress in addressing state needs, from nursing shortages to mining to business incubation.
In fall 2013, UW System institutions received the green light to deploy $22.5 million in one-time funding over two years to support increased economic growth, a stronger Wisconsin workforce, and improved college affordability. In a highly competitive process, 12 grant recipients were selected from a total of 56 entries from UW institutions statewide.
“These are concrete and current examples of how our UW campuses are aligning with economic and workforce development initiatives in ways that directly benefit businesses and communities statewide,” said Regent Tim Higgins, chair of UW System’s Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee. “They clearly are off to very impressive starts.”
“The UW System is committed to working with business and community leaders across the state to develop the talent necessary to help grow Wisconsin’s economy,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “The innovative initiatives supported by the Incentive Grants are an investment in people and ideas that will continue to move Wisconsin forward.”
A sampling of the grant recipients’ accomplishments include the following:
- The Nurses for Wisconsin program, led by UW-Eau Claire with collaboration from UW-Oshkosh, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Madison, 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 made 30 awards to PhDs and Doctorate of Nursing Practitioner (DNP) fellows and has helped retain four crucial nursing faculty through the loan forgiveness feature of the program.
- The Igniter project, which 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, has already received 170 ideas through its calls for innovation. The project has awarded more than $1 million to five projects with additional projects currently under review.
- 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. UW-Eau Claire has signed three MOUs that create high-paying summer internships for students who gain valuable experience with mining companies. This is the first program of its kind in the Upper Midwest.
- The 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. This program has already created five jobs, retained five jobs, and assisted five businesses through advanced technical support, nondisclosure agreements, and/or market analyses.
- The UW Extension/WEDC 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. Within six months of the start of this program, 22 eligible businesses have applied for funding, and 12 teams have been selected for Stage 1 funding support.
- “Intensive Aquaculture” is a newly expanding industry born from research and technology developed at the UW‐Milwaukee (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences (SFS). As unique intellectual property and skills are transferred from the laboratory to commercial operations, sustainable, private intensive aquaculture production is projected to become a $1 billion industry in the U.S., with Wisconsin at its heart. To facilitate this growth, UWM, in collaboration with UW‐Whitewater, UW‐Parkside, and the technical colleges in southeastern Wisconsin, are launching a Research and Training Center for Commercialization of Intensive Aquaculture and Aquaponics, which is providing the resources, support, and infrastructure to grow this industry.