A group called the Valley Prosperity Partnership is supporting legislative efforts to bring more financial support to the state’s two research universities – UND and NDSU.
The Partnership is pushing for the creation of an “emerging technology fund” to support collaborations between the two universities and businesses to commercialize the research. It also wants to give the two universities more decision-making independence on such items as tuition and recruiting top-notch staff.
UND President Mark Kennedy and NDSU President Dean Bresciani say the two universities play a key role in helping to diversify North Dakota’s economy.
"We both contribute to the core economy -- NDSU on ag, us on energy," Kennedy said. "But this is about doing not just that, but diversify the economy beyond oil and soil, truly detaching us from the up-and-down cycles the state has been in."
"We're somewhat uniquely positioned in North Dakota to stimulate the economy and create new jobs," Bresciani said. "The Valley Prosperity Partnership has realized that. This isn't about NDSU and UND -- this is about the state of North Dakota's success."
Bresciani and Kennedy said there is a lot of untapped potential here.
Kennedy said he and Bresciani have been talking to legislators on the interim Higher Education Committee about this. He said they seem to be receptive.
"We believe that when we come back in two years for reauthorization, we can have more federal dollars and corporate dollars in research," Kennedy said. "It can also mean new talent employers need in these emerging technologies, more patents applied for, more corporations attracted and retained, more spinoffs, if we have more research dollars."
The Partnership said a poll conducted in the spring of 2018 shows a lot of support among North Dakotans for the two research schools, with the majority supporting more state investment into the schools.