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Contacts: GREGORY S. NICHOLS, Executive Director
Board of Regents, State of Iowa
(515) 281-6532
BARB DIETRICH BOOSE, Communications Specialist
Board of Regents, State of Iowa
(515) 281-5015

Release: Jan. 10, 2003

NOTE: Docket materials for meetings of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, are available at the following web site: http://www2.state.ia.us/regents/Meetings/DocketMemos/memos.html

Regent universities spur economic activity in Iowa amid recession, budget cuts

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa's three public universities stimulated new businesses, spurred technology development, and provided a range of services to entrepreneurs, small business owners and major corporations statewide over the past year, despite the soft economy and significant cuts in state funding for university economic development and technology transfer efforts.

According to a report to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the universities' activities in economic development helped create thousands of jobs in Iowa in businesses at their research parks and centers. For example, the 36 technology companies and four anchor laboratories affiliated with University of Iowa centers employ 1,077 people from 43 communities in a 12-county region, with an average full-time salary of $51,654. The 120 companies and research centers affiliated with Iowa State University employ nearly 1,400 individuals statewide.

The three universities further enhance Iowa's economy by providing services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and major corporations. Outreach programs in technology transfer and business/community development activities of the University of Northern Iowa, for example, served nearly 3,900 businesses and 465 communities involving approximately 33,560 employees and community leaders in all 99 Iowa counties.

In fiscal year 2002, Iowa's three state universities also filed 126 patent applications, were issued 66 patents and executed 344 license and option agreements. They reported 189 disclosures of intellectual property.

"The state's public universities play a key role in Iowa's economic advancement through teaching, research and service," said Owen J. Newlin, president of the Board of Regents. "Whether they are preparing students for successful careers, conducting research that creates knowledge and generates income, or advising small businesses, the three universities help drive our state's economy and enhance our quality of life."

During its meeting on Wednesday, January 15, at the University of Iowa, the Board of Regents will hear comments of representatives of three businesses that have been assisted by the universities' centers and research parks:

-- Roman Terrill, senior vice president for legal and regulatory affairs of Integrated DNA Technologies, a biotechnology firm that got its commercial start in the University of Iowa Technology Innovation Center. IDT, which employs more than 300 people and serves more than 27,000 customers worldwide, is a leading supplier of custom oligonucleotides and a developer of innovative new biotechnologies. Last year, IDT made a substantial royalty payment to the University of Iowa Research Foundation via a license agreement covering two patented DNA-based technologies that Joseph Walder, founder and president of Integrated DNA Technologies, developed when he was a University of Iowa professor of biochemistry.

-- Chris Clover, chief executive officer of Mechdyne Corporation, the world's premier provider of immersive visualization solutions headquartered in Marshalltown. Founded in 1996 thanks to the technology and expertise of Iowa State University, Mechdyne is a multi-million dollar company specializing in large-scale visualization systems, high-fidelity simulators, and engineering consultation for aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, military, research, and geophysical exploration organizations.

-- Nick Horan, president of Laser Touch and Technologies, a company that was established in 2000 to manufacture and market a laser-guided device used in the painting and coating industry. Invented by a staff member of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center at UNI and purchased by the company through a license agreement, the Laser Touch device attaches to a variety of coating equipment - from manual to robotic devices - to reduce paint "overspray" and produce a more consistent finish. The EPA has verified the technology, and the device is certified as a method of pollution prevention in California.

Iowa's public universities generate a substantial return on state funding through gifts, grants and contracts from the federal government, businesses and other private sources. For every $1 in state appropriations, the three universities return $1.03 in external gifts, grants and contracts, and a return of $1.26 including non-resident tuition revenues. In fiscal year 2002, the universities' faculty, staff and students received a record $587.1 million in external support from federal agencies, corporations and foundations, an increase of $72.1 million from the previous year. While these dollars must be used for research and development purposes specified by the funding sources, they fuel discovery and economic benefits for Iowa.

Significant cuts in state funding for the universities' economic development programs --
12 percent in fiscal year 2002 and nearly 60 percent in the current fiscal year - will hamper continued progress in economic activity and technology transfer. Deep reductions in state funding may jeopardize recent significant federal and industry funding; harm the universities' ability to attract and retain top-notch researchers; reduce services and cooperative partnerships; and threaten new business development.

"The universities provide a wide range of unique programs and services that are vital to Iowa's future," Newlin said. "They connect knowledge and technology and their practical application with the private sector. Adequate investment by the state in these activities will provide significant benefits to Iowa's economy."