Economic Impact

Public Support Propels Growth in Difficult Year

Welder working on CTSB buildingURMC broke ground in June 2009 on the $76 million Clinical and Translational Science Building, the first of its kind in the nation. Targeted to open in the summer of 2011, it will be home to more than 600 scientists, physicians, nurses, statisticians, research administrators, and support staff. The project earned $50 million in support from the State of New York and will create hundreds of permanent jobs, employ 830 construction workers, and generate $30 million in annual activity.

ARRA LogoIn 2009, the University of Rochester received $38 million in federal research funding from programs established by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), including $32 million from the NIH. An important source of revenue for the University’s scientific community, these funds enabled many researchers to advance projects that were at risk of stalling. Federal law requires recipients of stimulus funds to report the number of jobs saved or created on a quarterly basis. For the forth quarter of 2009, 264 individuals had at least a portion of their salary paid for with ARRA funds, a full-time-equivalent of 136 positions.

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Innovation and Bridging the Lab-to-Market Gap

The University’s technology transfer activity continued its pattern of solid performance, earning more than $46 million in royalty revenues in 2009. Though a decline over the previous year, due in part to the fact that University patents on major pediatric vaccines are expiring, these funds represent a critical source of revenue that can be reinvested back into research activities. This was especially important in a year that saw a drop in overall University research funding due to declines in giving from industry, foundations, and other private sources. 

Tech Transfer Chart

Through the creation of innovative scientific programs, the construction of new facilities, and the training and recruitment of world-class researchers and clinicians, the Medical Center has witnessed a steady growth in research funding, invention disclosures, and intellectual property over the last decade. The University now holds 369 patents. This growing pool of innovation represents ideas and technologies that can be developed into commercial ventures. 

Despite this potential, there are many obstacles on the path from the lab to the market. Over the last few years, our research and technology transfer community, the region’s business community, and local and state government have been exploring ways to lower these barriers and provide early-stage technologies the resources necessary to foster growth. As a result, we are creating a Technology Development Fund that will provide resources to further the development of promising technologies to the point where they are closer to market and, therefore, more attractive to potential industry champions.

Many University technologies end up forming the basis of new commercial ventures that stay in Rochester and add to the region’s growing cluster of companies in fields such as biotechnology. One of the significant barriers to these companies is a dearth of seed and early-stage funding necessary to advance research and development, build a management team, and identify markets. In 2009, the Governor’s Task Force on Diversifying the New York State Economy through Industry-Higher Education Partnerships held a hearing at URMC at which University leadership advocated for the creation of a state fund to provide early-stage funding to technology companies. This proposal was adopted by the Task Force and ultimately made its way into the Governor’s 2010-2011 Executive Budget in the form of a $25 million New Technology Seed Fund.

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