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Published April 05, 2013, 12:00 AM

RESEARCH/TECHNOLOGY: Proof in numbers

Research and technology play vital roles in many enterprises and significantly impact the economies of the communities within which they are located.

By: BRUCE RAFERT, Prairie Business Magazine

Research and technology play vital roles in many enterprises and significantly impact the economies of the communities within which they are located. North Dakota State University serves as an example of this. A study by Economic Modeling Specialists International of Moscow, Idaho, shows the net added income generated by NDSU operations pumps approximately $201.2 million into the region’s economy each year. Approximately $74.8 million of that economic impact is due to NDSU’s research activities alone.

Bringing research discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace is another way to measure results. NDSU patents inventions from wide-ranging research and licenses them to companies to develop the technology. One measure of innovative capability is the total amount of license revenue received by the university. From fiscal year (FY) 2006-’07 to FY 2010-’11, NDSU received 256 invention disclosures, filed 142 new U.S. patent applications and produced 486 licenses. By FY 2012, NDSU’s licensing revenues topped $2 million, growing more than 77 percent since FY 2006. Six start-up companies have been created in industries such as electronics, computer systems, coatings and biomedical technology. Direct and indirect economic impact of start-up companies stemming from NDSU-related research totals $3 million.

Spending generated by nonlocal students and visitors, as well as a productivity effect from NDSU students and graduates employed in our service area, yields $884.6 million in annual added income generated from the impact of NDSU and its students. This value is approximately equal to 20,170 average-wage jobs in the service area, which includes North Dakota and 18 counties in Minnesota.

More importantly, this economic impact provides measurable benefits to students and companies in the region. For every dollar students invest in NDSU, they receive a cumulative $5.23 in higher future income (discounted) over the course of their working careers.

EMSI’s study showed the average income of someone with an NDSU bachelor’s degree is $58,200, compared to $30,000 for someone with a high school diploma. The higher earnings and associated increases in state income expand the tax base in North Dakota by about $83.6 million each year. NDSU graduates have a 14.4 percent average rate of return on their educational investments. An estimated 58 percent of NDSU students remain in North Dakota and contribute to economic growth. Visit http://www.ndsu.edu/legislators/economic_impact/ for the complete report.

With seven colleges and a graduate school offering 46 doctoral degrees, businesses benefit from access to highly trained workers and the opportunity for ongoing workforce training. One-fifth of NDSU students are enrolled in the College of Engineering and Architecture, providing a continuing stream of professionals to companies in the region.

Companies in the private sector partner with NDSU for scientific research or seek expertise to gain data to help them solve production, technology or manufacturing challenges in an effort to enhance business success.

Further growth in NDSU research activities will contribute to the regional economy. The numbers add up to one thing — opportunity. Our continued commitment to building public/private partnerships can only enhance such numbers. It represents a bright future for students and companies — one that benefits the entire region. PB

J. Bruce Rafert

Provost, North Dakota State University

Bruce.rafert@ndsu.edu

701-231-7131

Twitter: @NDSU

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