Research consortium aims to bring security and defense contracts to Wisconsin

Research consortium aims to bring security and defense contracts to Wisconsin

Madison, Wis. – Wisconsin ranks in the lower half of states in federal contracting dollars, but a new consortium is ready to help researchers and companies land more federal security contracts.
The Wisconsin Security Research Consortium, funded by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, has staked out potentially lucrative territory – sensitive, classified research.
“What we’re trying to do is grow Wisconsin through research and development,” said Jack Heinemann, director of the consortium. “Researchers bring opportunity to the state to transition that research into commercial entities.”
Heinemann, who described the mission at a meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network, said part of that mission will be to help academic institutions respond to federal grant solicitations and help them deal with classification issues, but another will be to leverage Wisconsin institutions in a collaborative manner.
The consortium already counts among its members several state universities, and depending on the grant opportunity, Heinemann indicated that one part of the project could be handled at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, another piece could be developed at UW-La Crosse, and another component could be addressed at a private company.
“It’s another way for the state to leverage its assets,” Heinemann said.
While the University of Wisconsin-Madison ranks in the top five in terms of research expenditures, and the Medical College of Wisconsin has attracted multi-million federal grants, the state ranked 28th in federal contracted spending in 2005. Wisconsin attracted $3.5 billion that year and a total of $14.6 billion from 2000 to 2006 (partial year), according to FedSpending.org.
The leading state for federal contract dollars is Virginia, which landed $62 billion in 2005 and took home $276.7 billion from 2000 to 2006 (partial year).
Heinemann estimates that Wisconsin has between 70 and 80 percent of the classified research capabilities sought by major agencies such as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Health and Human Services.
He said the consortium would help companies and institutions pursue contracts in four key areas: prevention (biometrics, water safety, and vaccines); detection (bio and radiological sensors); reaction (emergency medical equipment and mass data storage); and recovery (bioremediation and decontamination).
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