University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Assessing UVM’s Major Impact on Vermont’s Economy

President Tom Sullivan
Photograph by Sally McCay

DEPARTMENTS/
PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE

Assessing UVM’s Major
Impact on Vermont’s Economy

There is a certain, generative symbiosis between a flagship research university and the community in which the university lives and functions. At its most robust, this interdependency of academy and community begets resources that energize, grow, and sustain both the university and the region. 

Both founded in 1791, for 225 years now the University of Vermont has been developing alongside of and helping to build a strong economic foundation for the state of Vermont. To make sure that the University continues to be a significant driver for economic vitality in our state, we recently commissioned the Pennsylvania-based firm TrippUmbach to assess the University’s overall economic and social impacts, as well as the innovative research benefits, to Vermont. 

The report offers compelling evidence for the 2014 fiscal year, the most recent year for which a full body of assessable data is available. The analysis shows a total of $1.33 billion added to Vermont’s economy in 2014: $562 million in direct spending within the state on goods and services, and in addition, nearly $771 million put back into the state’s economy. State and local tax revenue for the same year topped $78 million. Community volunteer work and dollars donated to nonprofits by UVM faculty, staff, and students was $15 million.

Although these numbers tell a general story of the very real contribution of the University to the economic foundation of our state, in focusing the lens solely on research activities at UVM in FY14, we see significant fiscal benefits to the state and recognize the important hub that the University is for generating innovative businesses and opportunities for growing Vermont’s future economy. 

In FY14, UVM received $128 million in research and educational grants and contracts; the overall economic benefit was nearly $158 million, a total that underscores the significance of University research activities to the state. But this total only measures up to the point at which the research generates a new finding or discovery. UVM then invests in protecting the intellectual property. When that intellectual property is licensed to a startup or established entity, the economic impact of those research activities flow directly into the community—they are no longer measureable within the University, but they are indeed growing the state’s economy by providing jobs, selling products that generate state and local tax revenues, and spurring all of the attendant services that support the company and its employees in creating a home in Vermont. 

Every year several of the innovations and intellectual property generated by research activities at UVM have led to the creation of Vermont-based companies across a variety of industries—health care, agriculture, education, energy, and many more. Since 2000, 27 companies have been started as a direct result of University-based research. The positive impact on the Vermont economy of these businesses that had their start at UVM is a story of economic generation several times the magnitude of that measured as flowing directly from the University in this new analysis.

Research is key to the growth of a vibrant economy in Vermont. Through the commercialization of innovative ideas, we craft a future of business activity that benefits the triple bottom line of people, place, and profits. The academy/community partnership that generates innovations on the one hand and provides support for business startup and appropriate scaling on the other hand will develop a vibrant and symbiotic ecosystem of entrepreneurship and opportunity that sustains our state deep into the future. The tremendous value added to Vermont’s economy and society by UVM’s presence and accomplishments clearly demonstrates the University’s essential role in fortifying the current and future success of the state, giving us all good reason for optimism.   

—Tom Sullivan

 

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