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Study pegs UConn's impact on state economy at $2.3 billion

- January 26, 2009


A nine-month study by a state economist indicates that ongoing operations at the University of Connecticut and its Health Center added $2.3 billion to Connecticut’s gross domestic product in fiscal year 2008.

The University also generates more than 29,000 jobs across the state and produces a net financial gain for the state of more than $76 million each year, the study found.

“For state residents, students, and employers alike, UConn serves as an advocate for excellence in teaching and learning, a repository of talent, and a creator of new knowledge,” says UConn President Michael Hogan. “Collectively, these benefits uniquely position the University as the state’s most viable generator of economic growth. More than ever before, UConn is a smart investment for driving innovation and stimulating economic development in the state of Connecticut.”

Law professors Geoffrey Dellenbaugh and Hillary Greene at the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic.
Law professors Geoffrey Dellenbaugh and Hillary Greene at the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic. Photo by Paul Horton

Using Regional Economic Models Inc., a widely used structural economic model, Stanley McMillen, chief economist at the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, found that for every state dollar allocated to UConn, including the Health Center, $5.05 is added to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He also wrote that Connecticut businesses experienced $3.2 billion in new sales as a result of ongoing operations at the UConn campuses.

Additionally, he says, as a result of the University’s operations, the state ultimately realizes $76 million more in tax revenues than it spends to fund the University and its Health Center.

“The University overall is a very significant operation,” says McMillen. “It employs a lot of people and creates an educated workforce for Connecticut businesses and state government. There’s a ready source of highly talented people coming out of this system, and they’re all the type of people this state needs.”

McMillen found that:

  • UConn receives total state support of $456 million and, as a result of that support, attracts an additional $713.5 million for the state’s economy;
  • Connecticut’s businesses experience $3.2 billion in new sales as a result of ongoing operations at the University;
  • More than 29,000 jobs are generated in the state by the University;
  • Nearly 70 percent of UConn graduates remain in Connecticut, contributing to the state’s knowledge-based workforce and economy;
  • More than two-thirds of Connecticut residents said in a recent survey that a strong UConn is vital to the future of the state’s economy;
  • The University received nearly $200 million in sponsored grants in 2008, including more than $92 million for biomedical research at the Health Center.

A report produced by UConn’s Office of University Communications in conjunction with the study outlines the myriad ways the University is vital to the state’s well being, including partnerships with state businesses; legal assistance to innovators and help creating entrepreneurial businesses; the training of doctors, dentists, engineers, and teachers; and bringing new businesses to life through faculty research and by offering entrepreneurs incubator space where they can hone their products and bring them to market.

The report also documents UConn’s contributions to the quality of life of Connecticut’s citizens, offering examples that illustrate the varied forms of those contributions – through research and innovation; by protecting people’s health and the environment; through outreach that supports cities and towns; by promoting the arts and culture through theaters and museums; and by building state pride through the Husky athletic teams.

“Institutions of higher education, and particularly public research universities, are uniquely positioned to assist their states and our nation as a whole in driving economic innovation and growth,” says Hogan. “This report substantiates why UConn is a sound and necessary investment in the future of our citizens and our state.”

The UConnomy report.
The UConnomy report.

The full report and fast facts are available at www.uconn.edu/uconnomy. The contents of the report will be presented in this and subsequent issues of the Advance.

The first section discusses UConn’s partnerships with businesses.

Businesses form the foundation of the state’s economy, the report says: “UConn fortifies this business community by teaming up with innovative partners to help pioneer new products and build more viable businesses. Major corporations join forces with the University to solve industry problems. High-tech firms enjoy access to lab facilities. Even emerging companies turn to UConn for advice on legal issues. Through these mutually beneficial collaborations, business owners, UConn faculty, and students are coming together to raise Connecticut’s competitiveness to an unprecedented level.”

Some examples highlighted in the report are:

  • the Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship Law Clinic, where UConn law students offer legal assistance to new companies. Since the clinic opened in 2007, students have advised about 80 Connecticut clients on patent licensing, employee confidentiality, and other issues. The U.S. Patent and Trade Office selected this clinic as one of six nationally to participate in a pilot program allowing law students, supervised by law school faculty, to practice intellectual property law before the Patent and Trade Office.
  • a collaboration between faculty at the UConn Health Center School of Dental Medicine led by Martin Freilich, a professor of oral rehabilitation, biomaterials and skeletal development, and Straumann AG, a global leader in implant dentistry, to develop new technologies for growing new bone around dental implants. The collaboration is moving toward human clinical trials for permanent tooth replacement.
  • the SS&C Technologies Financial Accelerator in downtown Hartford, where business leaders come together with faculty and students to develop profitable responses to insurance and financial services industry opportunities. Participating corporate partners receive fresh insights regarding such current business issues as evaluating emerging technologies, reducing costs, and increasing revenues, while also developing a pipeline of highly skilled future employees.
  • the Eminent Faculty Initiative in Sustainable Energy, which helps in the quest for promising energy alternatives. Established in 2007, the initiative is a partnership between UConn, the state, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and industrial partners FuelCell Energy, the Northeast Utilities Foundation, and UTC Power.
  • “The Initiative forms a nexus for advanced research, education, and training in renewable, low-CO2 impact energy, including fuel cells, biofuels, and other sustainable technologies,” the report states. Energy research is centered around the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center, which enjoys multimillion-dollar federal and state grants to conduct visionary research with industry partners.
  • the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, located in East Hartford within the UConn School of Business, which supports new business development by assisting new and existing companies in solving complex business problems. The program includes the Innovation Accelerator, in which project teams comprising graduate students, faculty, and business owners assist high-tech entrepreneurial ventures in addressing challenges associated with identifying and capturing business opportunities.
  • UConn’s Technology Incubation Program, which helps new high-tech entrepreneurial companies move ideas forward, turning research findings into viable products and businesses.
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