The University of Iowa contributes $6 billion to Iowa’s economy annually, and every $1 in state appropriations to the university results in a greater than 1,500 percent return for Iowans.  

“Research and scholarship is a critical element of our mission and our faculty are nationally recognized and extraordinarily competitive for research funding with much of the work focused on translation for the benefit of Iowa and the nation.” 
-- Jordan Cohen, interim vice president for research

The university also is one of the state’s top employers and is responsible for the creation of one of every 30 jobs in the state, or a total 51,818 jobs last year.  Those are the key findings of a comprehensive economic impact study produced by Pittsburgh-based research consultant firm Tripp Umbach and made public during a news conference today. The study examined the economic, employment, and state and local government revenue impact of the UI’s operations as captured for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

"The University of Iowa's primary mission--and its most significant economic development contribution--has always been and continues to be providing a rich educational experience for students from Iowa and beyond," UI President Sally Mason said. "But it's gratifying to quantify the great extent to which the university contributes to the health and growth of Iowa's economy. This study tells us that--collectively and individually--our faculty, staff, students, vendors, and visitors generate billions of dollars through our operations, paid taxes, volunteerism, donations, and discoveries.”

UI Research Generates a Far Reaching Economic Impact

Scientific and medical discoveries are among many university activities that pay important dividends, not only in contributions to humankind’s knowledge base but in jobs and dollars. The study found that UI research injects almost $963 million into Iowa’s economy each year. It also found that the $429.5 million the university received in 2008-09 for sponsored research and programs supported nearly 9,000 full-time equivalent jobs ranging from supply and equipment vendors to research professionals.

Graph of the impact of research at the UI in millions

“Research and scholarship is a critical element of our mission and our faculty are nationally recognized and extraordinarily competitive for research funding with much of the work focused on translation for the benefit of Iowa and the nation,” said Jordan Cohen, interim vice president for research. “Our offices work hard to ensure that the resources are in place to sustain and support our active research and scholarly programs that are so vital for the success of our undergraduate and graduate students as well as our economic development commitment.”

 UI research has led to diverse discoveries and developments, including the Van Allen radiation belts, educational television, and the Gallup Poll, and to advances in blood banking, biotechnology, computer simulation and computer-aided design, and educational testing.

 The University of Iowa is dedicated to providing an environment in which the collective and individual imaginations of faculty members, staff members, and students can flourish. The UI’s success hinges on advocating for research, providing a high level of service to faculty and staff, creating innovative partnerships, and expecting excellence.

 The University of Iowa fosters interdisciplinary collaborations among its constituents and assists them in creating such alliances. The UI prides itself on a service philosophy that helps facilitate all aspects of research and economic development at the University. Research development is promoted by maintaining state of the art core facilities and making strategic investments to initiate and maintain programs with promise for success. Through an internal network of grant administrators and support staff, the UI assists investigators and departments in cultivating external research support. The University works to increase engagement and partnerships across departments, colleges, industries, other universities and the state of Iowa. It also provides expertise and support to faculty and staff in the commercialization of University intellectual property, and helps bring these new ideas to the marketplace.

 The University of Iowa Research Park is central to the University’s interaction with industry and the public. Within the research park, the following enterprises are housed: the UI Hygienic Laboratory, the state’s public health and environmental laboratory; National Advanced Driving Simulator, the world’s most sophisticated ground vehicle simulator; Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, which supports development of biotechnology for health, chemistry, and agriculture; the UI Technology Innovation Center, a business incubator; and the BioVentures Center, for life science companies that need wet laboratory space. The UI Research Foundation filed 128 patent applications for inventions in FY 08-09 and earned more than $24 million in license revenue.

 The University of Iowa’s research vision is to create an outstanding climate of support for University of Iowa researchers, broadly enabling stellar research advances. The economic impact of the UI research engine is $962.7 million ($418.7 million direct).

The UI helps make Iowa a better place to live in other ways as well, providing more than $300 million in community benefits. These include $232.5 million in free care provided by UI Hospitals and Clinics; $31.3 million donated to local charitable organizations by UI faculty and staff; and nearly $37.5 million worth of volunteer time provided to area communities by students, faculty and staff.

UI Research Creates High-Quality Jobs

In FY 08-09, the University received $429.5 million for sponsored research and other sponsored programs, supporting 6,275 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. These jobs include not only direct employment by the University of Iowa research professionals (2,510 direct FTEs) but also indirect jobs created for supply and equipment vendors, contractors, and laborers for the construction and renovation of laboratory facilities, administrators and managers who support the research infrastructure, and jobs created in the community by the disposable income of the scientific workforce.Graph of Iowa Research Employment Impact

As the University continues to attract, and consequently spend, increasingly higher levels of research dollars, the number of jobs supported continues to grow. With continued high levels of research funding and consequent expenditures, the University will remain a source of support for thousands of local jobs based on its research funding alone.  

UI Spending Supports State Economy

Statewide expenditures by the University of Iowa and related constituencies totaled $2.6 billion in fiscal 2008-09. This includes direct expenditures for goods and services by the university, its employees, students, and visitors, which supported local businesses and in turn employed local individuals to sell the goods and provide the services that university constituencies needed.

When combined with $3.4 billion in indirect spending within Iowa—the re-spending within the state by businesses and individuals that received direct expenditures—the university’s overall economic impact reaches $6 billion. This means that $1 out of every $30 in the Iowa economy is generated by the University of Iowa.

Graph of the Overall Economic ImpactThe study also illustrates that when combining how the University of Iowa directly and indirectly contributes back to the state each year, the university contributes more to the state than it receives from the state. Although the university is exempt from state taxes, employees pay income tax, sales tax and other local taxes such as real estate property taxes. The presence of the university and its spending also generates significant indirect taxes paid by companies who receive payments from the university.

As a result, state and local government revenues attributable to the presence of the University of Iowa totaled $486.9 million in fiscal 2008-09. This equates to $1.28 in tax revenue returned to state and local governments for every $1 dollar in state appropriations.

 “On a relative basis, the University of Iowa is the most important driver of its state's economy among other universities we have studied,” said Paul O. Umbach, CEO and Founder of Tripp Umbach.

More details, including a full copy of the study and information about the methodology used by Tripp Umbach, may be found at

For audio of the news conference click here.

Story Source: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

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