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Saturday, January 28, 2023
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation supports a new initiative that could help society’s middle class.

Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation supports a new initiative that could help society’s middle class.

WARF announces 2022 annual grant for university research

This year’s grant of $130 million is instrumental to research success at UW-Madison.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) announced the monetary amount it will contribute to research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the 2022-23 academic year last week. A total of $130 million will be used to support its programs.

This grant release is the continuation of a near-century-long tradition by WARF and its Board of Trustees. The announcement marked another year of the foundation supporting university research for both fall and spring semesters. 

“Announcing our annual grant is the highlight of our year,” said WARF CEO Erik Iverson. “Our mission is to enable UW-Madison research to solve the world’s problems, and nothing serves that historic mission more fully than supporting outstanding researchers all across campus.”

This year’s total grants were $86 million less than the budget for the 2021-22 academic year, which totaled $216 million. However, Jeanan Yasiri Moe, WARF’s director of strategic communications and public affairs, explained this was in line with normal WARF practices. 

“The size of [last year’s] grant was based on two major events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and our opportunity to provide a $50 million grant to advance the new School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences building,” Yasiri Moe said. “WARF committed $40 million in additional support to help the university deal with the pressures of running a major research enterprise during the COVID crisis.” 

Whether it’s supporting specific programs within the university like graduate research or faculty recruitment, the annual grants given to the university by WARF have been used to bolster UW-Madison’s reputation as a world-class institution ever since WARF began this mission. 

“WARF’s continuing investment gives our university an edge in research and innovation that reaches every part of our campus, and by extension our state,” said Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin. “This critical support allows the flexibility to focus on exciting and rewarding new priorities while helping us maintain our world-class faculty and provide students exceptional opportunities to learn and grow.”

WARF manages a substantial investment portfolio each year, and the foundation generates revenue from licensing royalties and investment management. The foundation has invested directly in over 40 startups with UW-Madison technology and is actively working with companies that cover a wide range of technologies including AI-enabled software programs, cancer diagnostics and advanced materials for batteries and vaccines. 

“Our governing documents define WARF’s purpose ‘to support, encourage and aid scientific investigation and research’ at UW-Madison,” said Yasiri Moe. “There is no better way to accomplish this than by granting funds to the university to advance research.”

The breakdown of funds is determined in close coordination with UW-Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) to ensure all funds are allocated to account for the most important areas of university research. 

“WARF’s mission is to support research, so the OVCRGE is one of our most important campus partners,” Yasiri Moe added. “In short, the campus determines the best way for WARF grants to benefit the research mission of the university.”

WARF grants will help support other major aspects of university research as well. This year, many exciting ventures will receive substantial funding. 

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“The Fall Research Competition, which draws hundreds of research proposals from as many as 120 different academic departments each year, will receive $11.4 million from WARF,” said a university press release. "Another $11 million has been allocated to strategic initiatives, including Research Forward, which advances transformative projects on campus.”

“The special initiatives that we are able to offer because of WARF’s continuing support are instrumental to research success at UW-Madison,” said Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “These initiatives, from the Fall Research Competition to Research Forward, generate innovative projects to address complex problems. They also support graduate students, postdocs, research staff and faculty, and allow our researchers to develop highly competitive proposals for extramural grant support.” 

The grants provided to the university by WARF this year will again aim to help further university research and many other important initiatives on campus, giving an edge to UW-Madison’s pursuit of innovation. 

Editors Note: This story was updated on October 26 at 1:58 a.m. to reflect WARF's campus grant.

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