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The economic impact of the state’s federally funded laboratories in 2012 was $2.3 billion and directly employed nearly 8,000 people in 2012.. CO-LABS sponsored the survey, Colorado Economic Impact Study: Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Federally Funded Research Facilities in Colorado, FY 2011 - 2013. Full 2013 Report here - scroll down for earlier year reports. (NOTE: the 2015 update to the study is being finalized for release in 2016)
The $2.3 billion impact is a 54% increase over the $1.5 billion impact reported in the 2011 economic impact study.
“Colorado's federal labs help foster the innovation that fuels our state and the nation's economy," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said. "Leveraging the labs' research and technology with the state's innovative entrepreneurial spirit creates a strong foundation for Colorado's business ecosytem. We are proud of the extraordinary advancements coming from the research in Colorado and will continue to support our federal laboratories and their world-class workforce."
The report, which analyzes data from a majority of Colorado’s 30 federally funded laboratories, supports statistical data from national surveys on the importance of funding innovation in the United States. One of the most recent examples: the National Science Foundation highlights how the U.S. remains the single-largest R&D performing country, with a total of nearly $414 billion expended in 2011. Furthermore, according to a report by the Science Foundation Arizona these public investments in R&D are leveraged by private industry: every dollar of public R&D investment induces $4 of private R&D investment, which results in a significantly larger positive economic impact.
And while the nation’s federal laboratory system has grown to comprise more than 700 laboratories with a combined federal research and development budget of over $100 billion, Colorado is the first and only state to report on the combined economic impact of its federally funded laboratories.
“In 2008, when we first released our study, it was somewhat unchartered territory for a state to look at federally funded labs as a collective local resource,” said Bill Farland, chair of CO-LABS and vice president for research at Colorado State University. “What we found was more than a dollar value. We learned that there’s a tremendous synergy between the laboratories, businesses and the community. This has allowed the laboratories to become important parts of our communities and has allowed for a variety of companies to spin out from our federal labs. In addition, we learned that people want to live here, making it easier for the labs to recruit top-notch talent to the state.”
According to the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, Colorado ranks fourth in terms of the number of laboratories and seventh for federal laboratories per capita. In addition, in 2009, Colorado ranked second in the nation for funding from NASA, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Interior, and was in the top 5 for National Science Foundation funding.
“Thanks in part to having the nation’s third-most highly educated population, Colorado has one of the highest per capita concentrations of federal research facilities in the nation,” Farland said. “The range of research happening here is quite diverse with groundbreaking studies on climate change, renewable energy, physical sciences, space, wildlife, agriculture, and endemic and epidemic diseases.”
Take for instance the recent wildfire near Yosemite and how it threatened San Francisco’s water and power supply. Using an NCAR-developed program which pairs a model that forecasts weather with a model that simulates wildfire behavior, emergency managers in the future may be able to more accurately anticipate the movement of fires across complex terrain.