Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
Security Research Consortium Wins Congressional Support
With backing from Wisconsin's House and Senate delegation, Congress has approved a grant to a non-profit group created to improve the state's ability to attract classified and sensitive federal research dollars. The grant is earmarked for the consortium's start-up, administrative and research work, not for individual companies.
The Wisconsin Security Research Consortium, formally launched this fall by the Wisconsin Technology Council and 11 public and private academic research partners, was designated for the $500,000 grant. The grant was included in an Appropriations conference report covering the federal Commerce, State and Justice departments, and will become effective later in fiscal 2006.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who helped guide the proposal through Congress, said the Wisconsin Security Research Consortium will help match the state's research strengths with federal homeland security needs.
"With these funds, the Wisconsin Security Consortium will be able to place Wisconsin's researchers at the leading edge of groundbreaking research on how to keep our nation safe," Kohl said after the report passed the Senate, 94-5. "Not only will the Wisconsin Security Consortium provide a great public service, they will also act as a catalyst for economic growth and development throughout Wisconsin."
U.S. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., guided the legislation on the House side.
Through its "Vision 2020: A Model Wisconsin Economy" report, the Tech Council identified the state's core research strengths – and many of them matched federal needs in homeland security. Experts have told the Tech Council that Wisconsin may have 75 to 80 percent of the homeland security technologies on the broad federal "shopping list," which centers on technologies in prevention, detection, reaction and recovery.
"In light of the significant effects these and other technologies would have on public and personal safety, it is in the national interest to make sure Wisconsin public institutions and its private companies are positioned to be part of the federal efforts to make the nation safe and secure," Tech Council President Tom Still said.
The initial members of the Wisconsin Security Research Consortium are the UW System, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Superior, UW-La Crosse, UW-Stout, UW-Extension, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the Tech Council. The consortium will eventually include associate members from private industry.
The consortium will:
"This is a strategic approach to utilizing the strengths of high-technology Wisconsin businesses and the capabilities of our academic institutions and research centers," Tech Council and WSRC board member Tom Hefty said. "It will better enable the federal government to determine how these capabilities and new technologies fit with its homeland security priorities."
Since the terrorism attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government has shifted more than $2 billion in non-classified research spending into classified research. While Wisconsin performs well in attracting academic research grants across all categories, it has lagged in obtaining grants in classified or sensitive areas. For example, Wisconsin's federal research grants exceed those in neighboring Minnesota by $100 million a year, but total federal spending in Minnesota exceeds Wisconsin by $400 million per year when all military spending is added into the calculation.
Here are examples of Wisconsin's research strengths in the homeland security area:
To learn more, visit www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com.
-- Tom Still, Tom Hefty
The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.
Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.