Generating ResearchUAB RESEARCH ECONOMIC IMPACT
UAB is educating the workforce of the future and building intellectual capital by channelling the talent of faculty and students who study at the University. In FY 09, UAB’s research enterprise surpassed all previous years by securing $489 million in external research funding, ranking 31st nationally in federal funding and in the top 20 nationally in funding from the National Institutes of Health. UAB‘s faculty and students are achieving research breakthroughs in the sciences and medicine, engineering, business, education and the arts and humanities.
The University is classified as an institution of “very high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation –– a designation held only by the nation’s top 96 public or private universities, and no other in Alabama.
- Over four decades, UAB’s collaborative culture and interdisciplinary approach to research has produced many “firsts” in science and medicine, and that pioneering spirit continues in every classroom, lab and library as students work alongside faculty toward the next major breakthrough.
- Physics researchers are developing novel middle-infrared active materials, lasers and optical sensors. In January 2010, PPI, a Birmingham spin-off company based on this research and led by a UAB physics professor, was acquired by IPG Photonics (Massachusetts), the world leader in high-power fiber lasers and amplifiers. PPI will operate a wholly owned subsidiary in Birmingham to do early stage development and expects to be in the market within three years.
- UAB is among only four schools in the nation with an NIH Neurosciences Interdisciplinary Center Grant ($8.6 million) that links investigators from institutions across the state and region to speed up discovery and development of new drugs and therapies for neurological diseases.
- The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center has been funded by NIH for over 30 years and specializes in finding and testing new therapies. There are currently two clinical trials based on UAB discoveries being used to treat various cancers.
- UAB’s new Materials Processing and Application Development Center, or MPAD, will help industry design and test new materials, technologies and applications. It is the largest academic research facility of its kind in the country. It is rare in that it will enable companies to develop, test and refine composites or metal materials.
- UAB biochemists were able to transform skin cells from an animal model of sickle cell disease into pluripotent stem cells, fix the genetic defect, replace the animal’s blood cells, and cure the disease. Work in humans is exceptionally promising.
- UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), funded by a $27 million grant from NIH (one of the largest single grants in UAB history), is enabling UAB to accelerate the pace of translating scientific discoveries into practical applications that enhance the lives of Alabamians. A key focus of the grant is increasing interaction between UAB researchers, the community, and other investigators throughout the world—drawing upon UAB’s traditional strength of collaboration and interdisciplinary research.
- Researchers in public health and archeology are using the newest-generation remote satellite imaging to both track public health threats worldwide, in the NASA-funded Laboratory for Global Health Observation, and reveal lost ancient settlements in Egypt. The Egyptology research is the subject of an upcoming BBC documentary.
- The UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center has received more than $23 million in federal funding to support educational, research and community outreach focused on eliminating the health disparities of racial and ethnic minorities in Alabama. The Center has trained over 400 Community Health Advisors (CHAs) serving Birmingham's inner city and Alabama's Black Belt region.
The projected economic impact of UAB Research in FY 2019-2020 is $1.4 billion ($617.4 million direct impact and $802.6 million indirect impact). This projected impact is the mid-range scenario and based upon the assumption that sponsored research increases from $489 million to $689 million and the economic impact of UAB increases to $6.6 billion.
|Current and Projected Research Impact of UAB
|Direct Research Impact
||Indirect Research Impact
||Total Research Impact (Direct + Indirect)
|UAB Current (FY 09)
|UAB Projected (FY 20)
|UAB Projected (FY 20)
|UAB Projected (FY 20)
The University’s research operations make tangible and quantifiable economic contributions. Along with creating jobs for research staff and support personnel, UAB scientists are contributing to new product development and technology commercialization. Knowledge and technology transfers have helped to start commercial ventures that promote entrepreneurship, economic development, and job creation. In FY 08-09, UAB received over $270 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.
UAB RESEARCH EMPLOYMENT IMPACT
In FY 08-09, the $489 million that the University received for sponsored research and other sponsored programs supported 8,529 jobs. These jobs included not only direct employment by the University of research professionals (3,412 direct jobs) but also indirect jobs created for supply and equipment vendors, contractors and laborers for the construction and renovation of laboratory facilities, administrators and managers who support the research infrastructure, and jobs created in the community by the disposable income of the scientific workforce.
In FY 19-20, it is projected in the mid-range scenario that the $689 million that the University is projected to receive for sponsored research and other sponsored programs will support a total of 12,039 jobs (4,816 direct jobs).
If the University can grow its strong faculty base, it will continue to attract, and consequently spend, increasingly higher levels of research dollars, and the number of jobs supported will continue to grow. With increasing levels of research funding and consequent expenditures, the University will continue to grow and be an even more significant source of support for thousands of local jobs based on its research funding alone.
|Current and Projected Research Employment Impact of UAB (jobs)
|Direct Research Employment Impact
||Indirect Research Employment Impact
||Total Research Employment Impact (Direct + Indirect)
UAB Current (FY 09)
UAB Projected (FY 20)
UAB Projected (FY 20)
UAB Projected (FY 20)
The UAB Research Foundation (UABRF) –– the technology transfer office for UAB –– was formed in 1987 as a non-profit corporation with a mission to identify, assess, and market commercially viable technology. The UABRF is the assignee of all intellectual property developed at UAB, and is responsible for reviewing all invention disclosures submitted.
The UABRF oversees the protection of intellectual property rights for UAB, including the initiation of domestic and foreign patent filings when appropriate. Additionally, the UABRF negotiates, manages, and monitors research, option and licensing agreements on behalf of UAB.
The UABRF has a broad range of technologies available for licensing. UAB has technologies in every medical therapeutic area, including but not limited to technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and central nervous system disorders. They encompass every type of technology, from platform technology and research tools to diagnostics and therapeutics (such as gene therapy and vaccines), and every stage, from very early stage to late stage (including clinical trials). UAB also has a strong portfolio of engineering, biomaterials and computer technologies with a wide variety of industrial and medical applications.
Innovation Depot, a business incubation facility and program that focuses on the development of emerging biotechnology/life science, information technology and service businesses, operates in partnership with UAB. A public-private economic development effort, Innovation Depot is funded by UAB, the Birmingham regional business community, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and other leading private foundations, and the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County. Innovation Depot currently houses 71 companies with approximately 400 people working out of the facility.
Highlights of research commercialization activity include:
- Extensive portfolio of inventions, from which both U.S. and foreign patents have been granted, and from which numerous patent applications are currently pending.
- More than 40 startup companies based on UAB technologies.
- More than 400 option and licensing agreements, generating approximately $46 million in revenues for the University.
- More than $29 million in research agreements negotiated through the UABRF.
- Southern Research Institute has generated $80 million in royalty and licensing fees.
The impact of research is often not shown in the economy until years after its initiation. Based upon current research funding of $489 million, the economic impact of spin-off businesses and commercialization of research in existing companies is estimated to be between $1.5 billion (conservative) and $2.8 billion (aggressive) on the state’s economy by 2020.