More than 16,000 employees at the University of Michigan are supported each year by research grants, including about 5,000 students across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, according to a new report.

The Institute for Research on Innovation and Science, based at the U-M Institute for Social Research, recently released a report that details how university research spending impacts the economy.

“Research led by the University of Michigan not only serves the world through groundbreaking discoveries and technologies, but it also plays a critical role in accelerating the economy,” said Rebecca Cunningham, interim vice president for research.

The report outlines the geographic distribution of vendors that, between fiscal years 2002 and 2019, supplied goods and services to support the U-M research enterprise.

Companies based in Washtenaw County, for example, received more than $976 million in research contracts from U-M over the 17-year span — the most of any Michigan county. Vendors in Marquette County received more than $53 million between FY ’02 and FY ’19 for their work in supporting the U-M research enterprise, while those in Kent County netted $17 million.

The report also shows the university contributed $5.6 billion to the national economy through vendor contracts and subcontracts between FY ’02 and FY ’19 — $1.8 billion of which was spent in Michigan.

“Our reports clarify and explain the economic impact of university research through many different lenses,” said IRIS Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith, professor of sociology and executive director of research analytics in the Office of Research. “Other IRIS reports contain similar information on the career paths, earnings, and outcomes for university employees and students.

“Through these data-driven reports, our goal is to better understand and explain, and ultimately improve the public value of higher education and research.”

IRIS is a national consortium of more than 30 research universities, organized around an IRB-approved data repository.

Reports, including this one on the economic impact of U-M research, are available to IRIS members, but are not released to the public. Members submit their administrative data on research spending to IRIS, which then links them to various other datasets to produce the reports. No individual businesses, employees or students are identifiable in the reports.

IRIS also curates and produces an annual data release that is made available for researcher use. Nearly 100 researchers have accessed IRIS data through its virtual data enclave, and more than 30 published papers and three books have used the data.

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