The research institutions of the Midwest will play a critical role in the years ahead as the Midwest economy sheds the 20th Century and takes on a 21st Century dynamic. Innovation is widely regarded as key to 21st Century economic growth and prosperity. Universities have long been magnets for bright, innovative people that seem bent on tackling big ideas. In following their inspirations, they often create new solutions to big problems making the world a better place. As a result, universities are often at the heart of innovation clusters. So if universities are integral to innovation, the Midwest is in good position to prosper. Its strong tradition of higher education has made the Midwest home to some of the nation’s best academic and research institutions.
The research universities of the Midwest are complemented by major medical centers including Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Rush Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati, and Marshfield Clinic. A significant additional component of Midwest research lies in the region’s federal laboratories to include the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi Labs near Chicago, NASA’s Glenn Research Center, the USDA’s Forest Product Laboratory in Madison, WI and Agricultural Research Service labs in Peoria, IL and Ames IA. By most any parameter for research and technology transfer excellence, Midwest research institutions number among the top ranking institutions nationally.
The National Science Foundation tracks R&D spending at academic institutions and medical centers each year. For fiscal 2008, Midwest research institutions within the core eight state upper Great Lakes region account for $9.8 billion or 20% of total US institutional R&D expenditures of $49.9 billion.