Research boosts economy
By Charlotte Crystal
spent on research at the University fuels a high-tech generator
that helps power the regional economy.
each $1 million in federal research funding received by U.Va and
other research universities in Virginia, 36 new jobs are created,
according to U.S. Department of Commerce data. And last year,
U.Va. received $257 million in sponsored research, primarily in
medicine, the sciences and engineering.
with supporting our researchers and providing the best education
possible for students at all levels, the University has a duty
to smooth the transfer of technology from academic labs, where
knowledge is created, into the public domain, where it can improve
peoples health or quality of life, said R. Ariel Gomez,
president for research and public service.
practices in technology transfer have yielded a dramatic return
to the taxpayer through the discovery of new technologies
that extend and improve the quality of life.
National Institutes of Health
path-breaking research at U.Va., quality laboratory space is tight,
limiting the number of projects that can be conducted and restricting
the potential for additional research funding.
Nov. 5, state voters will be asked to approve the issuance of
$900 million in general obligation bonds, of which $846 million
is earmarked for higher education, including $36.9 million for
the construction and renovation of research space at U.Va.
of the U.Va. projects designated to receive state funding are
a medical research building; a nanotechnology, materials science
and engineering building; and renovation of teaching laboratories
in Gilmer Hall.
2001, nationally recognized physicians and medical researchers
at the U.Va. Health System received $105 million in research grants,
and researchers at the School of Engineering and Applied Science
received research awards of nearly $38 million.
in 2000, the schools materials science department received
a prestigious $5 million, five-year grant from the National Science
Foundation to establish a Materials Research Science and Engineering
Center. The center will explore the creation of materials, atom
by atom, and the assembly of tiny devices smaller than the width
of a human hair, said Robert Hull, professor of materials science
and engineering and center director. Possible applications include
computing, telecommunications and medical devices.
is working to ease the transfer of technology into commercial
labs and, ultimately, into the marketplace.
that reason, U.Va. founded Gateway Virginia in 1997. Its mission
is to nurture relationships between University researchers and
high-tech business. Likewise, the U.Va. Patent Foundation helps
faculty entrepreneurs protect and market their intellectual property.
1999, the Patent Foundation
created a for-profit affiliate, Spinner Technologies Inc., to
help faculty researchers start their own companies.
help them build high-tech companies so they can stay here and
grow, said Andrea Alms, Spinners general manager.
recent years, U.Va. faculty members have spun off more than two
dozen new biotech companies from research conducted in University
labs, with most of the young companies setting up shop in the
Charlottesville area. Some of the companies have taken advantage
of new laboratory space in the Emerging Technology Center at the
U.Va. Research Park at North Fork.
DiMauri, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Partnership
for Economic Development, collaborates with U.Va. on economic
work to enhance the regions tax base by supporting the creation
of highly paid jobs in growing, sophisticated companies,
DeMauri said. The bottom line of economic development in
the area is to take full advantage of the University and what
it has to offer.