Report: Research done by public universities boosts Arizona economy

Arizona Technologies, a parter of ASU, has helped boost the research initiative at Arizona public Universities. Research by public universities, has been found by ABOR to stimulate the economy. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Technologies) Arizona Technologies, a partner of ASU, has helped boost the research initiative at Arizona public universities. Research by public universities has been found by ABOR to stimulate the economy. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Technologies)

Research done by Arizona's three public universities in 2012 boosted the state economy by more than $1 million, according to an annual research report released by the Arizona Board of Regents.

As universities research and invent, they are able to create companies, employ people and invest money back into local economies, ABOR spokeswoman Sarah Harper said.

"Research is a major function of the university system, and it is a great economic engine for the state," Harper said. "The dollars that are generated from research are infused back into the community. They create new jobs, and they create new companies."

According to the research report, more than $1 million in research expenditures boosted Arizona's economy, which developed 15 new companies, 400 invention disclosures and 47 U.S. patents.

Dennis Hoffman, director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute and professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business, said research done in Arizona attracts a flow of money from other places that are infused into the local economy.

"Money comes in from the federal government to pay the salaries of research faculty and grad students," Hoffman said. "The incomes earned here are spent locally and local businesses benefit."

In addition to salaries, research provides a lot of opportunities for cities surrounding the university, Hoffman said.

"Think of other examples where the university dominates the town," Hoffman said. "Tucson has the UA and Raytheon. ASU has the same type of impact on Tempe, but Tempe is part of a major metro, so it may be harder to observe (the economic benefits)."

Hoffman said a university that promotes research on its campuses is a great draw for companies looking to settle in the area.

"Ask any economic development professional if they would like a university within the confines of their city," Hoffman said. "It provides tangible benefits in terms of jobs and the ability to attract and retain companies."

Nikki Ripley, communications and media relations manager for the city of Tempe, said ASU directly benefits Tempe by developing a strong infrastructure and creating a good business environment.

"Tempe residents, businesses and visitors have always been enriched by being part of a college town," Hoffman said. "ASU graduates make great employees and interns, and many companies also are interested in forming research partnerships with the University."

One example of research stimulating the economy is shown by Arizona Technology Enterprises, a company that partners with ASU to turn research and inventions into marketplace opportunities by securing patents. They then turn the research into new companies or partnerships with existing companies.

According to the annual report, some of the start-up companies developed from research done at ASU include Heart in Your Hand, which works to develop accurate three-dimensional models of hearts; ArbSource, which is using a new microbial process to treat wastewater and Greencave Productions, a math computer games developer.

Charlie Lewis, vice president of venture development for Arizona Technology Enterprises, said working to turn research and inventions into a company creates a flow of money that benefits the local economy.

"When a new company gets created," Lewis said, "that means that there are new jobs and there are additional taxes and spending that happens as a result of the company hiring employees and other things associated with starting and growing new companies."


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