Protecting the knowledge that powers WisconsinMonday, May 12, 2014 - Press Release
When you think Wisconsin tourism, you probably think about a Wisconsin Dells waterpark, a Door County winery tour or a northern Wisconsin supper club. But did you know that one of our fastest-growing industries is agriculture tourism? Visitors from all over the world are coming to Wisconsin to view our advanced agricultural operations, to learn more about our hybrid biotech seeds, to tour our ginseng farms.
From ag tourism to the Global Water Center to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, we are attracting scientific interest from around the world for our innovation and invention across industries. These advances make protection of intellectual property an important policy priority for Wisconsin jobs.
Intellectual property supports about 1.5 million Wisconsin jobs, over half our state's private-sector workforce. Manufacturing, agriculture, health care, technology — all of these industries and others rely on patent-protected processes and products. And these are good, family-supporting jobs — intellectual property-intensive companies pay an average wage 26% higher than non-intellectual property companies.
Moreover, intellectual property is especially important to our state's inventors and entrepreneurs. Wisconsinites secured over 2,000 patents in 2013, many of which led to new business start-ups. Since taking office, we've seen over 19,000 net new businesses created in Wisconsin.
We need to keep encouraging these risk-takers and small businesses. More than any other part of our economy, they're the folks who create the new jobs that employ their friends and neighbors.
Copyrights, trademarks, patents and other forms of intellectual property protection not only encourage the creation of new businesses; they help sustain our current companies.
Wisconsin spends nearly $4 billion a year on research and development, especially at our world-class University of Wisconsin campuses and their affiliated incubators. Intellectual property ensures the professors and employers who develop this research into commercial products can recoup the financing provided by taxpayers and investors.
Not only does intellectual property protect our products when folks come here to visit; it is also vital to supporting our exports. Wisconsin's dairy exports are leading the way with a 41% increase in 2013 over 2012, with many other sectors growing from ag to industry. Three-quarters of Wisconsin's $23 billion in exports came from intellectual property-related companies. International intellectual property protection helps prevent thieves abroad from creating fake copies of our exports. When people see a product labeled "Something special from Wisconsin," we want them to know it's the real deal.
Tuesday at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, I will be joining business leaders from across the state and across the globe for the Wisconsin Trade Conference. We'll talk about ways to expand our exports to further fuel job growth, our ag sector and our manufacturing base. Intellectual property works for all these industries.
Those of us working in government must protect the innovation and inventions of our private sector and academic researchers and entrepreneurs. That's important to keep growing our exports — and to protecting the jobs they support here at home.