Michigan’s University Research Corridor is an innovation powerhouse

Much has changed in the 10 years since Michigan’s University Research Corridor was formed, creating a partnership among Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University in an effort to increase economic prosperity and connect Michigan to the world.

Most notably, our three research universities’ collective $17.5-billion contribution to the state’s economy in 2014, announced recently in our annual Economic Impact Report, marks a 35 percent increase over the same measurement in 2007, the year of the report’s inception. The report also found that every region in the state benefitted from economic activities tied to the URC, including spending on operations, student spending and incremental alumni earnings.

In offering a world-class education to students, conducting life-changing research and development and introducing new technologies to the marketplace, Michigan’s leading research universities are enhancing lives and livelihoods in Michigan and around the world.

The universities that make up the URC continue to invest in commercializing research, applying science and research to find solutions to real world problems, and enabling Michigan to compete with the likes of Silicon Valley in technological advancements.

An important marker in measuring innovation, the Economic Impact Report found that the URC also surpassed its five-year average for the number of patents issued, licensing and options activity, and invention disclosures, for the third straight year. Since 2002, the three URC universities have cultivated 188 start-up companies, including 71 which have formed in the past five years.

The URC also retained its second place standing in the Innovation Power Ranking among the nation’s most respected innovation clusters for the third year in a row. The ranking focuses on the defining factors of leading research universities – talent, R&D and technology commercialization, to arrive at the measurement. Other university innovation clusters measured in the ranking included those in Northern and Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania.

It’s widely known that one of the first considerations businesses weigh when deciding where to locate is the availability of skilled talent. In an increasingly global economy, graduates with four year, graduate and professional degrees, continue to be sought-after for organizations of every size and sector.

The URC continues to outperform its peers in the production of such talent, ranking first in the talent composite score, a measurement of total number of degrees conferred and total number of high-tech degrees.

Beyond establishing a benchmark to hold ourselves to for future growth, the Economic Impact Report continues to demonstrate the collective strength of Michigan’s research universities, which are highly competitive with the most respected innovation clusters in the country.

Ten years ago when we created the URC we committed to objectively comparing ourselves with other major university innovation clusters across the United States.

Today, we remain committed to providing an unparalleled education for our students, attracting talent and businesses to our state from around the globe and bolstering innovation and the transfer of technology to the marketplace.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

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Darryle Buchanan
Tue, 03/01/2016 - 9:46am
And until we address our crumbling infrastructure and educational system, this will all be for nothing. No one is going to move to a state, a Great Lakes state, where the water isn't safe or they cannot educate their children. Those are the basics.
Tue, 03/01/2016 - 10:25am
This article reflects the sad state of affairs of MI. We have the "best and the brightest" graduating from top universities and yet the reality of the people of MI is the worst social and infrastructure problems in the Unitied States. So help me to understand: This innovation program has contributed to the "bottom line" in MI (a term the governor so loves to use), and yet children in Flint and possibly elsewhere in our state are being poisoned by the water coming from their faucets. This may have been just poor timing for this article, but it seems like all of our major systems in MI are working from the "ostrich" mentality, and not the reality of life in MI. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out!!
Paul Beach
Tue, 03/01/2016 - 5:33pm
Thank you Virginia Tech.
Richard Burke
Mon, 03/07/2016 - 9:39am
Kalamazoo-based AureoGen Biosciences Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with drug giant Merck to use AureoGens novel chemistry and compounds. AureoGen is based at Western Michigan University's Research & Technology Park.