Tuesday Trends sample: Madison research rising, venture capital legislation mixed and labor force falling

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Madison research: Research affiliated with the University of Wisconsin continues to pay dividends for the state’s capital city. UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation announce earnings of $57.7 million from research licensing in fiscal year 2011, a 6 percent increase over the previous year and good for 10th among all universities according to a survey by the Association of University Technology Managers. While fiscal year 2010 saw a decrease, licensing revenue overall is up from the $46.7 million reported in 2007. UW and WARF combined to make $1.1 billion in expenditures for research during the latest fiscal year; they created four new start-up companies and garnered 156 patents during that span. Meanwhile, UW-Madison partner University Research Park announces that two Madison-area biotech companies — Epicentre and Aldevron — will relocate to the park’s Accelerator building; a third biotech company, Exact Sciences, will expand into the space Aldevron is vacating.


Venture capital legislation: Efforts to craft new venture capital legislation are underway by both Democrats and Republicans this summer, but it remains unlikely that a bill will be ready until the next legislative session in 2013 — and even then, the prospects for passage remain uncertain. State Sen. Tim Cullen convenes his new venture capital committee for the first time, and Democrats have repeatedly called for a special session on jobs yet this year. But Cullen, D-Janesville, says his goal is to produce a bill that would get a unanimous committee vote; if and when it would come before the full Legislature is another matter. The effort has been met with derision by Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who says it’s a way for Democrats to save face after a recent spat with Cullen over committee assignments. He adds that any bill will depend on how much money the state has; a venture capital bill’s likely price tag would be between $100 million and $200 million. The bill may be an easier sell if revenue projections continue to rise in the coming months, and Cullen has suggested spreading out the investment over multiple years to ration out the cost. Cullen says he’d like to at least see the bill done before the next state budget; some observers say one alternative — putting venture capital funding in the budget alongside costs for education and health care — could cause a schism between Democrats and Republicans despite their broad agreement the issue itself. The Walker administration, meanwhile, has put the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in charge of establishing a consortium of stakeholders as a first step toward new venture capital legislation. Both sides are increasing their focus on entrepreneurs — rather than investors — as lawmakers prepare to take another whack at providing more capital to state start-ups.


Labor force: With Labor Day come and gone, the ninth annual State of Working Wisconsin report from UW-Madison’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy says the state is still facing a massive jobs shortfall as families wait for a strong economic recovery to emerge from the recession of 2008. Three years after the official end of that recession, the study says Wisconsin’s July 2012 labor force of 2.72 million jobs is still well behind the 2.88 million Wisconsin jobs in December of 2007; when accounting for population growth over that span, the report says the state has a jobs shortfall of 245,900. The center’s report also said family income fell between 2000 and 2010 and that unemployment doubled between 2000 and 2011; African-American unemployment in Wisconsin, meanwhile, is 25 percent — the worst in the nation.