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Sunday, 01 July 2012 23:04

Research universities feeding state’s talent, R&D pipeline

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MICHIGAN — Michigan's top three research universities say they're doing their share to support innovation and to create the talent pipeline behind it

In one recent report, the University Research Corridor says its members — consisting of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — benchmark well against research clusters nationally in terms of enrollments, graduates with high-tech degrees, research and development expenditures, and technology transfers into the marketplace.

A separate analysis by The Anderson Economic Group in Lansing concludes that URC members are sustaining the talent pool needed to drive innovation in the automotive industry. The three universities together support $60 million in automotive research and development annually and spent $300 between 2007 and 2011 on 1,400 auto projects.

MSU, U of M and Wayne State also collectively graduate 3,600 students annually who are prepared to go into technical careers in the auto industry, according to The Anderson Economic Group report. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler together employ nearly 13,000 graduates of the three universities; 84 Michigan-based companies involved in automotive research and development have hired engineering graduates from URC members during the last five years.

Graduates from URC universities are involved "along the entire spectrum" in research and development, ranging from improving vehicle quality and safety to producing more efficient and better performing engines and developing biofuels.

"The auto industry faces ever-higher demands to improve performance and quality at a lower cost. The URC universities are involved in every step of the innovation process to meet these challenges," states the report. "The most significant contribution the URC universities make to the auto industry is providing a steady stream of educated workers. The education that students receive at URC schools in rigorous scientific methods and practical problem-solving skills enables them to join the global auto workforce upon graduation and contribute to the innovation process."

The report on the URC's role in supporting the auto industry came out this month on the heels of a prior analysis released in May that shows MSU, U of M and Wayne State compare well to six other research clusters around the nation, including North Carolina's Research Triangle and California's Silicon Valley.

The data in the report "indicate just how truly world class these research universities are and what a tremendous asset they are to the state of Michigan," URC Executive Director Jeff Mason said.

The URC as of 2010 ranked first in enrollment, 136,061, among the peer group analyzed and in the number of degrees granted, 30,418, according to the benchmarking report also prepared by The Anderson Economic Group. URC members also ranked third — compared to research clusters in Southern California and Pennsylvania — in the number of high-tech degrees, 9,427, awarded in 2010.

Research and development expenditures by URC members during 2010 grew 8.3 percent to $1.87 billion, the highest growth rate among the research clusters analyzed, and ranking fourth among the seven in spending. The growth rate from 2009 to 2010 exceeds the national average of 6.8 percent among all U.S. universities.

In transferring technology from the research lab to the marketplace, the URC ranked fourth in the report for patents granted; fifth in invention disclosures, licenses and options granted; fifth for the $37 million in licensing revenue generated; and tied for fifth in the number of business startups it helped to create from 2006 to 2010, according to The Anderson Economic Group analysis that provides a basis for improvement.

Read 3226 times Last modified on Sunday, 29 July 2012 22:18

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