UAB is Alabama’s largest single employer, with more than 23,000 employees. UAB did business with nearly 1,800 Birmingham supplies, spending more than $272 million in FY2015. But our economic impact — more than $5 billion annually — reaches far beyond the city. UAB’s intellectual capital and strategic partnerships with economic development organizations spur robust growth throughout the state.
Leveraging external and internal investments
UAB's R&D expenditures increased from $430 million in FY2014 to $510 million in FY2015. With $243 million in NIH funding (including contracts) in FY2015, UAB is ranked 22nd nationally (10th among public universities). The School of Dentistry is ranked first among all dental schools nationally in NIH funding.
In many instances, this funding is leveraged to create additional opportunities. UAB’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, recently refunded with a nearly $34 million NIH grant, invests strategically in high-potential research ideas. Since 2008, its investment of just over $1 million in 36 pilot projects has resulted in $33,772,319 in new grants — a return on investment of 32.5:1.
From science to startups
Much of UAB’s impact is generated by technology transfer — turning these research discoveries into marketplace-ready products.
The Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship focuses on ensuring rapid development of new ideas, products and groundbreaking technologies based on UAB research. Over the years, 640 patents and 58 startups have emerged from UAB research. The Harbert Institute manages intellectual property and is the entry point for industries seeking to collaborate with UAB. The Harbert Institute is also developing new entrepreneurial educational models to inspire the next generation of American businesses.
Our partnership with the Birmingham Entrepreneurial Center has produced the largest high-tech business incubator in the Southeast — Innovation Depot, home to 100 client companies with a sales impact of $1.25 billion during the past five years. One new resident at the Depot is the UAB Innovation Lab (iLab), a partnership between UAB's Collat School of Business and Innovation Depot that acts as a conduit between students with big ideas and the city's entrepreneurial community. UAB, Innovation Depot and other partners are also collaborating on plans for a “Technology Village” to provide a permanent home for companies graduating from Innovation Depot and newly recruited to Birmingham.
UAB and affiliate Southern Research have a longtime and fruitful research partnership in drug discovery, materials engineering, high-performance computing, gene therapy and other areas. The collaborative Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (ADDA) has more than a dozen potential new pharmaceuticals in the pipeline. The success of that partnership has led to a second collaboration, the Alliance for Innovative Medical Technology (AIMTech), to develop new medical devices and bring them to market rapidly. The goal is to make UAB and Birmingham a major player in the booming medical device industry.
Growing intellectual capital, training a 21st century workforce
UAB is also cultivating vital intellectual capital for Birmingham and Alabama by attracting world-class students — and preparing them for 21st century careers.
The fall 2015 freshman class is UAB’s highest-performing class ever academically, with an average ACT of 25 (top 21 percent nationally) and average high school GPA of 3.66. Freshmen who enrolled with a 4.0 GPA or higher make up 28 percent of the freshman class.
The UAB Honors College enrolled its largest-ever class in fall 2015 — an 18 percent increase to 1,260 students. These incoming freshmen averaged a 4.14 GPA and 30.4 ACT.
UAB is also widening access to higher education and increasing the ranks of degree-holders in Birmingham and Alabama through several initiatives.
A Joint Admission program with area community colleges has 678 enrolled as of May 2015 and recently welcomed a fifth partner college, Bevill State.
UABTeach is preparing highly qualified STEM educations for middle- and high schools statewide. UAB students in the program can get a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate in four years. UABTeach has doubled its initial enrollment goal, and is now at 130 UAB students.
GEAR UP Alabama, funded by a $49 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is a UAB-led partnership with high-poverty rural schools to better prepare students for success in post-secondary education. It is reaching 9,300 students in 21 school districts and 50 schools.