WisBusiness: Magazine ranks UW-Madison tops in research

By Brian E. Clark

UW-Madison is the top research university in the United States, according to the September issue of Washington Monthly.

The campus was 12th overall among national universities in the magazine’s annual college guide. But UW-Madison’s research ranking topped the likes of MIT, Stanford and UCLA, Michigan.

According to the article, UW-Madison earned its honor based on two measurements: the total amount of an institution’s annual research spending, and the number of Ph.Ds awarded by the university in the sciences and engineering.

The Wisconsin academic powerhouse spends more than $700 million a year on research, primarily in the areas of science an engineering, according to the National Science Foundation. UW-Madison grants about 450 doctorates a year in sciences and engineering.

Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said the Washington Monthly survey is important because the magazine is read by policymakers in and around Washington, D.C.

“These are people who run pretty big government grant and research programs like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, as well as others in Homeland Security,” he said.

“This just underscores that UW-Madison is truly a unique asset for this state and is driving the new economy,” he said.

Though other universities on the East and West coasts might have more cachet, he said UW-Madison outperforms them – at least by the measurements used by Washington Monthly.

Charlie Hoslet, managing director of the university’s Office of Corporate Relations, called the article “terrific news because it will generate continued interest by researchers, the federal government and businesses.”

“It reinforces the high quality of education, research and the faculty and staff we have here, particularly among outsiders who take a good hard look at various indicators,” he said.

“I hope people from the coasts, venture capitalists and companies looking to invest in research collaborations or technology transfer opportunities will learn that Madison is a place for them to look,” he said.

George Lipper, an executive with the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds, said the research ranking will have long-term benefit for the university, Madison and the state.

“I don’t know if every venture capital firm is going to immediately start investing in Wisconsin,” he said.

“But this has to help,” he said. “It’s a credit to the state, which people used to think of mostly in terms of manufacturing, that the university is so good at research and that the state is making strides to become a leader in the new economy.”