On Aug. 11, 2019 Inside Business published a column in this space highlighting some of the value of a community college to Fairbanks. Now let’s explore the value of a research university to Fairbanks.

Did you know?

• “Since 2013, research revenue generated by University of Alaska has exceeded $1 billion.

• With UA research as a multiplier — every dollar invested in research brings more than $6 to Alaska.

• In 2018, UA brought in $141 million in external research expenditures; $23 million in state research funding multiplied by 6; $90 million direct wages and salaries; 1,250 direct jobs; another $27 million indirect income; 350 jobs from multiplier effects of direct employment; $70 million in purchases, contracted services, travel, student aid and equipment.”

So how does all this benefit a local business?

• On average, the university system typically contracts with more than 2,000 businesses per year.

• In 2015, the University of Alaska purchased goods and services valued at $122.6 million from Alaska vendors.

• Annual student spending — including spending on off-campus housing, food, entertainment, transportation, and other personal items — totaled $160 million.

• Visitors attending conferences, athletic events and other festivals related to the University of Alaska spent approximately $2 million in 2015.”

But wait! There is more:

I confess that I am not a research professor, but I found some fascinating impact of University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers in the Alaska Journal of Commerce Sept. 14, 2017 publication: 

Did you know?

“Alaska’s blue economy leadership potential is tremendous; we maintain over half the nation’s coastline and a third of the U.S. exclusive economic zone with access to vast natural resources. The blue economy vision is that by 2040 Alaska would grow by 50,000 jobs and $3 billion in wages, approximately equal to the oil and gas industry today.

Alaska’s blue economy includes existing traditional sectors such as fisheries, coastal tourism and oil and gas, as well as additional “new” blue economy sectors such as ocean technology, renewable energy and marine biotechnology. The application and commercialization of new technologies and innovation to fisheries and marine science and engineering — referred to as the new blue economy — is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global blue economy. This maritime economic sector is currently valued globally at $1.5 trillion (measured as marine based industrial contribution to economic output and employment) and predicted to expand to $3 trillion by 2030.” 

The scope, diversity and benefits for Alaskans is huge. I discovered UAF researchers are on the forefront of discovery in biomedical and health research with the following funded initiatives:

• “$1.8 million US Department of Agriculture grant focused on promoting healthy eating and active play among Alaska Native children.

 • Head Start, participating communities, and Andrea Bersamin’s team will learn how schools, families and communities can create environments that support healthy eating and activity in young children.

 • $4.25 million National Institutes of Health grant to help Alaska Native communities use the most effective ways to prevent suicides. UAF will use the grant to establish the Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research Resilience (ANCHRR).

• Emerging viruses threaten wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. We are using next-generation genome sequencing technology to map these pathogens: influenza (“flu”), avian influenza (“bird flu”), seal influenza and distemper, bat viruses, African swine fever, and Epstein-Barr virus, in Alaska, the Arctic and beyond.”

• Arctic ground squirrels are the only mammal known whose body temperature can drop below freezing in the winter. A very big basic science question is how can it allow that to happen and still survive? More important to society, can those adaptations in the squirrels’ physiology be adapted for people? If so, it might be possible to stabilize stroke victims to reduce neurological damage while the patient is transported to the hospital. It might be possible to provide immediate intervention to those who are involved in traumatic injury, perhaps in car accidents or on the battlefield, to reduce damage to the brain or other vital organs.

But wait! There is much more economic and social benefit from UAF research.

Turn to this space next Sunday for more.

Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus. He may be reached by email at cndexter@alaska.edu. This column is provided as a public service by the UAF Community and Technical Colleges.