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May 16, 2012   |   by Erika Cohen   |   BusinessNH Magazine

New Hampshire’s 28 colleges employed 17,509 people full and part time as of the fall of 2010, paying out more than $1 billion in salaries, wages and benefits—making many of those institutions the largest “industry” in town. The NH College and University Council estimates that in 2009, the latest statewide impact report available, higher education institutions contributed $4.886 billion, or 8.14 percent, of the state’s gross domestic product.

Business startups spun out from university research, taxes paid on dining halls and dorms by private institutions, investments in research and development, and capital investments in new buildings are all part of that overall figure...

...Dartmouth has a history of spinning off companies from commercializing its research. The best known and most profitable example is GlycoFi, the Upper Valley biotech company founded by Dartmouth Professor Tillman Gerngross and sold to Merck in 2006 for $400 million. (That’s not the only Dartmouth connection. GlycoFi was funded in part by Borealis Ventures, a venture capital firm co-founded by Phil Ferneau, who received an undergraduate degree and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.)

It’s just one of many examples of how research at NH colleges and universities spawns successful companies and jobs. The Dartmouth Regional Technology Center—where all businesses have some connection to Dartmouth—has housed 38 startups since it launched in 2006 and created more than 150 jobs. The Thayer School of Engineering lists a dozen faculty and emeritus faculty who have started successful companies, among them Mascoma Corporation and Hypertherm, one of the largest employers in the Upper Valley.

“I tell my students, ‘You are in the richest environment you are ever going to have to start a company. Don’t waste any of it,’” says Gregg Fairbrothers, executive director of the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center and an adjunct professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

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