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The University of Colorado is the nexus of teaching, research, and healthcare that reaches far beyond economic statistics that quantify purchases and payroll in the state of Colorado. In addition, the university’s economic contributions resonate as an economic engine driven by education, clinical, and research expenditures. In FY2019, The University of Colorado and its affiliates on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, including University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado, generated a total economic impact of $14 billion for the state of Colorado.
The University of Colorado, which directly employed 38,975 faculty, staff, and student workers in FY2019, shares the complexity of a large corporation. Funding from tuition, grants, contracts, gifts, and appropriations is turned around and spent, in large part, in private industry. These purchases, ranging from food services to energy to equipment, generated an economic impact of $9.7 billion on the state of Colorado in FY2019 (nearly $4.5 billion from direct university spending) and directly employed or supported 62,100 workers in the state. Of this, research expenditure activities alone had nearly a $2.1 billion impact. State funding for the university topped $219 million in FY2019, lending to a significant return on investment for state funding based on the economic activity generated by the university.
CU Anschutz faculty are the primary healthcare providers at the University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado and maintain a clinical practice billing arm through a 501(c)(3) known as CU Medicine. The additional economic contribution of University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado is estimated to be $4.5 billion for the Colorado economy in FY2019.
The University of Colorado comprises four campuses—the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver), and the Anschutz Medical Campus (CU Anschutz), as well as the system administration offices in Denver. This public university serves “Colorado, the nation, and the world through leadership in high-quality education and professional training, public service, advancing research and knowledge, and state-of-the-art health care.” With education as a core element of this mission, the University of Colorado enrolled 67,386 students in the fall of 2019 and awarded 16,917 degrees in FY2019. Nearly 278,000 alumni reside in the state, contributing to Colorado’s economic and social fabric. Evidence of the university’s educational impact can be found in the leadership of private businesses, teachers in classrooms, health care professionals, and policymakers. These alumni are an integral part of the Colorado labor force, particularly in the high-tech workforce, and contribute to the state’s rank as second in the nation for educational attainment.
The university operated on $4.6 billion in noncapital revenues in FY2019. A significant portion of this leveraged funding was related to sponsored programs and other restricted fund activity, primarily associated with research activity. Sponsored program awards, totaling $1.4 billion in FY2019, were concentrated on the CU Anschutz and the CU Boulder campuses. Nearly 55% of the sponsored research awards came from Federal government with the predominant funding agencies being NASA, the National Science Foundation, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense. Some federal research laboratories (e.g., joint institutes) are located in Colorado because of the university, which has helped create the relatively high concentration of federal research laboratories in the state. They are often located on campus, and staff may include university employees.
Administered by Venture Partners at CU Boulder and CU Innovations, technology transfer is the conduit for technology commercialization. To illustrate impact, Venture Partners’ startup portfolio in FY2019 raised $147 million, earned $12 million in licensing revenue, recorded 144 patented inventions, and launched five startups. These companies are taking risks to create innovative technological impacts.
Student and visitor spending also have an economic impact. A survey of students found their spending totaled $927 million in FY2019. Spending estimates are based on students who indicated they would not be in Colorado if they were not enrolled at CU. Visitor spending in Colorado related to the campuses was an estimated $43.5 million.
The University of Colorado collaborates in a research triangle that includes universities, businesses, and federal laboratories. These concerted efforts, with support from state and federal funds, help ensure Colorado’s economic vitality. From direct expenditures and spinoff technologies to collaborative research and an educated workforce, the University of Colorado strengthens Colorado’s economy.