The University of California contributes to the economy of California and the well-being of its residents in a variety of ways. During the 2012-13 academic year, UC awarded a significant share of the bachelors and graduate degrees in California and a majority of the STEM bachelors and doctoral degrees. As integral part of its mission, UC conducts cutting-edge research in a wide variety of fields seeking to address and solve difficult problems society faces. In its first annual “Grad Slam” in May 2015, UC highlighted some of its most innovating and engaging research being conducted by graduate students. The “Grad Slam” event featured one graduate student from each of the ten campuses, challenging each to take years of academic toil and present it to an audience in just three minutes, free of jargon or technical lingo. The Grand Prize winner was Ashley Fong, who works on transforming adult stem cells into functional heart muscle cells, in the hopes of repairing diseased hearts without whole organ transplant. Daniel Hieber received second place for his work related to preserving and revitalizing the nearly-lost language of a Native American tribe. Alex Phan won third place for his research involving a new method for monitoring eye pressure in glaucoma patients, allowing for more customized treatment to prevent blindness.
The number of UC startup companies continues to boost California’s economy. The number of startups formed per year in California has steadily increased since 2000, peaking at 77 in 2014. In 2014, active UC startups in California employed a combined 18,437 people and had a combined total of $14 billion in revenues. Startup companies span a wide range of industries including health, software, and electronics among others. Another way in which UC contributes to the well-being of Californians is through its community and partnership programs across a wide variety of areas. Partnerships related to agriculture, environment and natural resources include 4-H youth development programs and programs related to environment sustainability and preservation of the environment. Through nutrition and health services programs, UC nutrition educators focus on addressing economic, obesity and food insecurity challenges and provide expert advice on meal planning, food shopping, food preparation, food safety, resource management and nutrition. In addition, UC also manages community and social services programs offering legal aid, domestic violence clinics, fair housing advocacy and employment training.
As the third largest employer in the state, the University of California generates $46.3 billion in annual economic activity for California. This represents a strong return on investment for the state.