Chancellor Mnookin highlights “virtuous cycle” of industry engagement

Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin
Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin delivers a speech during a UW Board of Regents meeting hosted at Union South at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on Feb. 9, 2023. (Photo by Althea Dotzour / UW–Madison)

Connections between UW–Madison and businesses help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges and improve lives, while also giving students exceptional learning opportunities and growing the economy.

At the recent UW System Board of Regents meeting hosted by UW­–Madison, campus leaders discussed the strengths and successes of the university’s work to engage industry, as well as how it can continue to improve.

Chancellor Mnookin’s presentation, “Enhancing Excellence, Overcoming Obstacles, and Pursuing Partnerships,” highlighted several success stories of UW–Madison’s industry engagement.

UW–Madison can claim some credit for Madison’s outsize prominence as a center for the life sciences. Mnookin noted, “Madison is one of the top 25 markets in the U.S. in terms of the number of microbiologists, biochemists, and other life sciences workers — and every other city [on that list] is at least three times our size.”

“We got to this place through creating synergies and partnerships that crisscross industry, academia and our whole region, to create an impressive national hub for life sciences technology,” she stated. “The result is that the life sciences here are growing fast, and we have a virtuous cycle where success breeds success.”

One part of that virtuous cycle is industry investment in sponsored research. “In 2021,” said Mnookin, “we increased our industry R&D expenditures by 6.5% while, nationwide, industry expenditures fell by 1.3%.”

Mnookin noted other thriving partnerships, including the Dairy Innovation Hub and the Cryo-EM Research Center.

Chancellor Mnookin highlighted areas of existing strength that have potential for further growth, including clean energy and energy storage, nuclear fusion, sustainability, quantum science, and AI and machine learning with applications in imaging and data analysis.

Mnookin added that reaching the next level of excellence in these areas will require strategic leverage of additional federal funding, effective industry partnerships, state investment, and innovative models of working together.

Watch the presentation here and read the speech as prepared.

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