UW-Madison maintains sixth-place national ranking for research

UW-Madison has maintained a sixth-place national ranking for research, according to a National Science Foundation survey.

The 2016 Higher Education Research and Development Survey aggregates R&D expenditure data, covering institutions that spent at least $150,000 on separately budgeted R&D in the fiscal year. It also includes information on the types of research expenses and personnel involved.

Over 900 universities responded to the survey in fiscal year 2016.

UW-Madison had been in the top five in the country for research spending every year since 1972, the year the survey started, but dropped to sixth last year for research spending in 2015.

The most recent survey shows UW-Madison spent nearly $1.16 billion on research in 2016, with about half of that coming from federal awards. These federal expenditures increased 6.3 percent from the last fiscal year, reaching about $34 million in new spending.

“The increase in expenditures and maintaining our ranking is good news for UW-Madison, showing that the needle is moving in the right direction after a four-year decline in research expenditures,” says Marsha Mailick, UW-Madison vice chancellor for research and graduate education.

Much of the research at UW-Madison gets translated into startup companies, many of which focus on health care technology or biotech. According to the UW-Madison Data Digest for 2016-17, over 362 startups with ties to the university contribute $2.3 billion to the state economy, supporting almost 25,000 jobs.

Mailick attributes the success of the university’s research programs to UW-Madison’s instructors. In support of that element of the university’s success, UW-Madison is pursuing a “Cluster Hiring Initiative” over the next three years with a goal of increasing faculty size.

According to a release, UW-Madison anticipates funding for five new clusters in each of the next three years, resulting in up to 15 new faculty each year. The cluster hires aim to increase the university’s strength in targeted avenues of research, and bring together experts from varying disciplines.

“They are pioneers — researchers and scholars who change the world with their accomplishments,” Mailick said. “Peer universities continue to re-invest in their faculty, and we need the State of Wisconsin to do the same if we are to continue to be a top research institution.”

–By Alex Moe