Heartland Forward report shows research institution rankings, how to boost economic impact

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 911 views 

Bentonville think tank Heartland Forward recently released a report that builds on research published in May and provides the first benchmark comparison for state university systems and other institutions, including hospitals, private research institutes and federal labs.

According to a Wednesday (Oct. 19) news release, “From Research to Renewal, Part 2: States Realizing the Potential of Research Institutions” includes rankings of U.S. research institutions that are important sources of research and innovation and bolster state economies. The new report builds on “Research to Renewal: Advancing University Tech Transfer, which offered policy suggestions to increase regional economic outcomes, and tracks technology transfers, or outputs from research institutions that lead to innovation.

The release shows the report includes data that can be used to improve technology transfers and increase the impact of university research institutions on their states’ economies.

According to the report, the University of Arkansas System was No. 17 in the nation, while the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville was No. 69. Among research institutions, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences was No. 23 in the nation.

For a PDF of the report, click here.

“Public research universities are underinvested assets in the heartland states, and it’s imperative that the gap in knowledge-based industries be closed to drive overall economic growth,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. “The CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in August 2022, is a massive, once-in-a-generation investment into the nation’s science infrastructure intended to bring underrepresented places and people into the innovation economy. Heartland states can be well positioned to receive a portion of the $10 billion pool to help create regional technology and innovation hubs, but it will require research universities, whether a system or otherwise, to distribute innovation to more locations and become leaders in commercialization and tech transfer. This report is a timely reminder of where this work stands today and the potential the middle of the country has to solve the most pressing challenges of our time.”

Following are the top 10 state university systems for technology transfers:

  1. University of California System
  2. State University System of Florida
  3. University of Texas System
  4. University System of Ohio
  5. University of North Carolina System
  6. University of Illinois System
  7. Arizona Board of Regents
  8. University of Massachusetts System
  9. University of Georgia System
  10. University of Colorado System

Following are the top 10 research institutions for technology transfers:

  1. Mayo Foundation Medical Education Research, Minn.
  2. Boston Children’s Hospital, Mass.
  3. Wistar Institute, Pa.
  4. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Texas
  5. Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Calif.
  6. Massachusetts General Hospital, Mass.
  7. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, N.Y.
  8. Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
  9. Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Mass.
  10. Brigham Women’s Hospital, Mass.

Among heartland states, the University of Texas System is the best and third in the nation. The Texas A&M University System (No. 15) has the highest percentage of master’s students graduating in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in the United States and is significant in providing talent. The University System of Ohio is fourth in the nation and second for the number of invention disclosures. The Cleveland Clinic was eighth among institutions in the nation. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio was No. 14. The University of Illinois System was No. 6 in the technology and commercialization index, while the University of Missouri and University of Wisconsin systems ranked No. 11 and No. 13, respectively.

According to the release, the Mayo Clinic is a key innovation asset for Minnesota. Medical and life sciences advances by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research led to the highest invention disclosures and startups of any institution.

Following are Heartland Forward’s recommendations to achieve better outcomes for economic development in each state:

  • Renew innovation-driven economic growth through investments in scientific and technological innovation.
  • State government and university officials must work together to invest and deploy resources
  • Bolster technology transfers from regional university research-based centers of excellence
  • Encourage reporting, accountability and greater participation in the Association of University Technology Managers survey by public institutions
  • Pool invention disclosures and patents
  • Increase technology transfers efficiency by adopting best practices in commercialization at technology licensing offices
  • Use alumni foundation investments as venture capital

Lead study author Maryann Feldman, Watts Professor in the Department of Public Policy at Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University said “innovation and the commercialization of academic research are important factors that promote technological change and economic growth for the areas that host America’s leading universities and hospitals. These rankings give governors, state agencies and state legislatures – the ultimate guardians of economic development – better understanding of the technology transfer activities in their state to make informed decisions about the future.”