UW-Madison research

Research is big business at UW-Madison, with over $1.1 billion spent on project such as microtuber potato cultivars used by the Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program. 

UW-Madison photo by Bryce Richter

Research has been a big deal at UW-Madison for decades, and the university continues to rank among the top schools in funding for research and development.

The National Science Foundation released its annual Higher Education Research and Development report, and UW-Madison came in at No. 6 for 2016, the same ranking the university had the year before.

UW-Madison had been in the top five in research spending every year since 1972, when the survey started, before dropping to No. 6 in the 2015 report.

Almost $1.16 billion was spent on research in all fields at UW-Madison in 2016, with about half of the money coming from federal coffers.

Federal money went up 6.3 percent from the previous fiscal year, or $34 million in new funding.

"The increase in expenditures and maintaining our ranking is good news for UW-Madison, showing the needle is moving in the right direction after a four-year decline in research expenditures," said Marsha Mailick, UW-Madison vice chancellor for research  and graduate education.

Besides federal money, UW-Madison gets research grants from state and local governments, industry, non-profits, and foundations, especially the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the UW Foundation.

Research from UW-Madison has been responsible for creating over 360 startup companies in Wisconsin, the university said.

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"Our faculty are the reason why UW-Madison is a top-tier university," Mailick said. "They are pioneers - researchers and scholars who change the world with their accomplishments.

"Peer universities continue to re-invest in their faculty, and we need the state to do the same, if we are to continue to be a top research institution," she said.

Johns Hopkins University led all schools in R&D spending at $2.4 billion. Michigan was No. 2 at $1.4 billion.

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