Michigan's research universities responsible for $2.15B in R&D, contribute $16.5B to Michigan econom

Posted at 9:37 AM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 09:37:03-05

The three universities comprising Michigan’s University Research Corridor spent $2.15 billion in research and development in fiscal 2015, up 53 percent since formation of the URC in 2007.

The URC’s 10th annual Economic Impact & Benchmark Report, released today, puts the URC’s contribution to Michigan’s economy at $16.5 billion, up $3.7 billion since 2007, when the group began benchmarking its impact.

Michigan State University’s individual impact on the state’s economy totaled $5.1 billion, with $900 million in spending with local businesses.

An alliance of MSU, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, the URC is one of the nation’s top research clusters. It is an engine for innovation in Michigan and the Great Lakes region, increasing economic prosperity and connecting Michigan to the global knowledge economy.

The URC retained its second-place standing in the report’s innovation power ranking among the nation’s most respected innovation clusters. The Southern California cluster (UCLA, UC-San Diego and USC) ranked first among peers in Michigan, Northern and Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania. The ranking, developed by report preparers Anderson Economic Group, indexes defining factors of leading research universities – talent, R&D and technology commercialization.

“Celebrating ten years of this unique collaboration, Michigan’s leading research universities continue to advance research and are making a direct economic impact on every county in the state,” said Jeff Mason, URC executive director. “This report demonstrates the collective power of the URC universities, which are highly competitive with the most respected clusters in the country and make a significant contribution to our state’s economy.”

The URC universities attracted 94 cents of every federal dollar spent on academic research in Michigan and account for 94 percent of all R&D conducted at higher education institutions in the state. Nearly $500 million in new tax revenues are attributable to the URC, as well as a net jobs impact of 68,896 in the state.

“Our URC universities develop an important pool of talent for the state and lead the country in producing advanced degree life science graduates,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “Our faculty members are leaders in their fields of study and attract some of the world’s brightest students and junior faculty, inspiring younger scholars to excel and preparing them to confront the world’s biggest challenges.”

Since 2002, the three URC universities have cultivated 210 start-up companies, including 79 in the past five years. The URC also has surpassed its five-year average for the number of patents issued, licensing and options activity, and invention disclosures. 

The report found that every county in Michigan has benefitted from economic activities tied to the URC, which boasts more than 1.2 million living graduates worldwide. The 651,000 living in Michigan account for more than 9.5 percent of the state’s population over age 24.

The full report is available and can be viewed at

Read more about how Michigan State works to advance prosperity for the people of Michigan by making a positive impact on the state’s economy in the areas of technology, agriculture, manufacturing, health care, education, energy, environment, and the arts on