SciTech project supported by Western Wisconsin businesses, industry

June 7, 2021 – Business and industry leaders across the St. Croix Valley are reaching out and speaking up in support of the future of students and the region’s economy as the University of Wisconsin-River Falls vies for state budget funds.

UW-River Falls is seeking funding for its Science and Technology Innovation Center, an investment that will address outdated science facilities and meet industry demand in Wisconsin’s high growth industries. 

In a demonstration of the value of this facility to employers as well as to students, UWRF alumni Jeff and Kristi Cernohous recently announced a $1M challenge gift to help garner private funds that will complement the state investment in the Science and Technology Innovation Center.

“We believe that it will create a more efficient strategy to help students determine what they really want to do with their life in a collegiate setting. We believe that this will be extremely impactful to them and to the future competitiveness of Wisconsin businesses,” said Jeff Cernohous.

“The value that the Science and Technology Innovation Center brings during this crucial time is the ability to train and hire talent within the fields of biology, chemistry and biotechnology,” said Jennifer Theisen, director, Human Resources, DiaSorin, Inc. “UWRF provides the foundation and elements for us to provide the critical training for today’s workforce to be competitive in the market and remain in the region.” 

The facility will have an impact on the entire campus, serving students from a wide range of majors and has been endorsed by the UWRF Student Government Association. A resolution passed unanimously by this body cites, “Approximately 1,700 UWRF students take science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses every year that could be taught in one central location, the Science and Technology Innovation Center.” They also point out that the facility, which will house biology, chemistry, physics and psychological sciences will not serve only science majors. “SciTech supports additional fields at UWRF, specifically agricultural sciences and preparation of K-12 science educators,” they stated.

Full construction funding for the SciTech project is included in the $1.2 billion UW System capital budget request put forth by President Tommy Thompson for the 2021-23 biennium. At a cost of $116.7. million, SciTech is ranked highest of the handful of new STEM facility construction funding requests on the list. SciTech will be a driver of local economic development and will meet the needs of businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs in a thriving economic region of the state and beyond. Located near a vibrant metropolitan area of approximately 4 million people, SciTech will help UW-River Falls become an attractor of STEM talent that will fuel the state’s workforce pipeline.

 SciTech is different from most other UW System capital projects as it includes a unique university/business collaboration hub that will benefit our students and local employers alike. This space will support enhanced internships, hands-on research, early talent engagement and incubation of joint university-business projects.

More than a dozen advocacy partners from public and private business as well as regional economic development leaders have joined together in support of SciTech and its impact, including:

River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce
New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce
Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau
City of River Falls
Pierce County Board of Supervisors
Momentum West
Pierce County EDC
Polk County EDC
River Falls EDC
St. Croix EDC
UWRF Faculty Senate
UWRF Academic Staff Council
UWRF University Staff Senate
UWRF Student Senate
UWRF Foundation Board of Directors

For more information about SciTech, email or call 715-425-0662.

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