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Michigan’s University Research Corridor R&D Spending Tops $2B

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LANSING — Michigan’s University Research Corridor generated $15.5 billion in economic impact statewide, exceeded $2 billion in annual research expenditures and awarded more than 31,600 degrees in one year, placing it at or near the top of seven university innovation clusters in the U.S., according to a new Economic Impact Report released Wednesday.

The URC — consisting of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — saw its research and development spending grow by 43 percent from 2007 to 2011, when it topped $2 billion for the first time. Its R&D growth rate topped six other major university research clusters in five states, including well-known hubs such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, California’s Innovation Hubs and Massachusetts’ Route 128 Corridor.

The report, prepared by East Lansing, Mich.-based Anderson Economic Group (AEG), showed that the URC universities conferred 31,683 graduate and undergraduate degrees in 2011, more than any of the university innovation clusters the URC has benchmarked itself against since 2007. The URC also granted the second-highest number of high-demand degrees overall.

“Michigan’s URC is making a real difference in creating talent for Michigan companies, and doing more research and development every year,” said URC executive director Jeff Mason. “The report shows the URC stacks up well against its peers.”

The $15.5 billion in state economic activity the URC contributed in 2011 was up $2.6 billion – 20 percent – over the 2007 report. Activity attributable to the URC boosted state tax revenue by $375 million in 2011, an increase of $24 million since the benchmarking series began. The URC was responsible in 2011 for more than 74,000 direct and indirect jobs statewide, with the impact being felt in regions ranging from the Upper Peninsula to Michigan’s southern border with Indiana and Ohio.

“Our graduates are key to strengthening and expanding Michigan’s economy,” said University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman. “Equally powerful are the inventions and technologies developed by faculty from a diverse range of fields.”

For every dollar the state invested in the three URC universities, it saw $17 in economic benefits, according to the report. Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon said the universities are working hard and effectively to assist in accelerating Michigan’s economic growth.

“Michigan’s economic success is vital to our students’ ability to get good jobs when they graduate,” she said. “We’re deeply committed to continuing our efforts to help Michigan’s businesses innovate and grow by providing the research and talent they need.”

Since 2002, the three URC universities have cultivated 149 start-up companies, including 18 in 2011, when the URC ranked behind only university innovation clusters in Southern California and Massachusetts.

“The three URC universities constantly are striving for excellence in their joint goals of educating students, attracting talented workers to Michigan, supporting innovation and encouraging the transfer of technology to the private sector,” said Wayne State University President Allan Gilmour. “Our efforts should encourage even more start-ups in the future.”

Since 2007, the URC has commissioned Anderson Economic Group to provide an annual report that calculates the economic impact of the URC’s activities on Michigan’s economy and compares its performance to peer university innovation clusters nationwide. The report matches up Michigan’s URC against clusters in Northern California, Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

“R&D expenditures by the URC helps bring talented and creative people to the state. The URC’s ability to compete on the national stage helps make Michigan a place where highly productive people want to live and work,” said Patrick Anderson, principal and CEO of AEG, an economic and research consulting firm. “AEG has compared universities across the country, and Michigan’s URC is in the lead on many measures.”

The report also includes a breakdown of the URC’s economic impact in 10 regions statewide, including the effect of the additional money URC alumni living in Michigan earn because of their university degrees and the spending of students attending one of the three URC universities. Nearly a quarter of all higher education students in Michigan last year attended one of the three URC universities.

The sixth annual URC Economic Impact Report can be found at http://urcmich.org.

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