I am very pleased to join you today at this exciting and important summit. The University of Iowa is a crucial partner in making life better for all Iowans—in educating our state’s citizens, in providing the highest quality health care statewide, in conducting cutting-edge research in myriad areas, in contributing significantly to the cultural vibrancy of Iowa, and in supporting our state’s economic development. Our research enterprise in large part defines our character as a leader in innovation and discovery.
Our knowledge discovery is always conducted with the public good in mind, so research is also critical to our service mission. Whether we are looking for cures for diabetes, seeking new interpretations of history, finding the best way to teach our children, writing the next Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, or exploring the depths of outer space, we are working to make life better for all.
Iowa has a long, proud tradition of making life better in innovative ways. But today, our research mission faces new opportunities and challenges. These include the meaning and practice of sustainability, clinical and translational science, and technology transfer and economic development.
Regarding the latter, university research is an economic engine and one of the major sources of R&D in the country—and becoming more so. Technology transfer, commercialization of research, and academic entrepreneurship are exciting possibilities in the world of the university today. Not all faculty and staff at the University of Iowa should be expected to consider the commercialization of their research. But for those who do have that interest, we should do what we can to help them bring ideas to the marketplace. The UI Research Foundation has transformed the commercialization of innovations here at Iowa—identifying promising innovations from our laboratories, then patenting those discoveries, licensing them to existing companies, or, when appropriate, forming Iowa spin-out companies around them. And, as with so many aspects of our university enterprise, we pursue economic development in partnership with the state, our communities, our friends and alumni, and the private sector. To move such a complex enterprise forward, we need a talented university community and strong, visionary leadership. I am very pleased that we have both at the University of Iowa.
I am grateful that we have found in Dan Reed a new Vice President for Research and Economic Development with broad experience in academics and industry, bringing to us an entrepreneurial perspective. With his trained eye focused on innovation in higher education and its public relevance and impact, Dan is already propelling the UI’s research agenda into the future and furthering our economic impact for Iowans. You have already heard from Dan today and will again, but I am very excited about his bold approach of “daring mighty things.” I know that our state legislators were impressed, as I was, when Dan and our Interim Associate Vice President for Economic Development David Hensley made a spectacular presentation to the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee in February. Dan and David affirmed the university’s commitment to, as Dan has said, “a new, more robust partnership with the citizens of Iowa, state and local organizations, and our sister universities, bringing all of our assets to bear on the challenges ahead” in this rapidly changing, globalized world. I could not agree more, and those words are exactly why I hired Dan Reed. Today, the University of Iowa is fully committed to economic development in our state. We are moving full speed ahead in finding new, imaginative ways to support our university community in advancing our role in the state’s prosperity and well-being. And a perfect example of our progress is the recent announcement about our new research sponsorship option, along with Iowa State, that will allow industry to negotiate exclusive licenses to breakthroughs growing out of partnerships with university researchers.
We want to move our research into the market as quickly and easily as possible. We want to partner with Iowa companies so they can benefit from the technologies discovered at the University of Iowa and help stimulate economic activity in our state. We have a stellar leadership team in place to make that happen, and we have a remarkable university community of faculty, staff, and students with the imagination and initiative to provide the innovation our society wants and needs. That’s you—and I couldn’t be happier to see you here today at this summit to learn more about how you can be part of realizing the amazing opportunities before us.