President Mark Schlissel told a Washington, D.C., audience Wednesday that government and business leaders will be “essential partners” as U-M works strategically on the biggest problems facing the nation.

Appearing at his first U-M Congressional Breakfast, Schlissel touted several such research projects, including the new mobility transformation laboratory to be called Mcity, as well as the Advanced Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

Schlissel referred to the transportation facility and its research as “having the potential to become Michigan’s Silicon Valley.”

President Mark Schlissel talks with Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, at the annual University of Michigan Congressional Breakfast. (Photo by Freed Photography)

Schlissel also said he was proud of the work U-M is doing to keep the cost of attending college down.

“Most in-state students with financial need have not seen a cost increase in nearly a decade,” he added. “We’re one of the only public universities in the country to meet all demonstrated financial need for eligible in-state students.”

Keynote speaker Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, also addressed the audience of more than 300 alumni, lawmakers and friends of the university. In his comments, Peters lauded the university’s efforts to commercialize much of its research for the benefit of the public.

Sen.Gary Peters, D-Michigan, speaks at the annual University of Michigan Congressional Breakfast in Washington. (Photo by Freed Photography)

“Not surprisingly, the University of Michigan ranks among the top 10 universities in the nation in technology licensing,” Peters said. “Last year alone, U-M produced a record 14 startup ventures, and over the last decade, saw an average of one new company created every five weeks. Students aren’t just inventing new technologies, they’re inventing their own jobs and companies.”

Peters said continued funding of basic research is key.

“The federal dollars that go to the University of Michigan are an investment not just in the thousands of students that attend one of U-M’s three campuses, but in the state of Michigan and our country,” he said. “Congress cannot and must not lose sight of the fact that investments in education and basic scientific research are a down-payment on our future.”

Also in attendance was Gov. Rick Snyder, who thanked the breakfast attendees for their support.

The University of Michigan Club of Greater Washington sponsors the Congressional Breakfast annually, with all proceeds supporting local scholarships that help D.C.-area students attend U-M.

Other notable attendees included U.S. Reps. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls; Mike Bishop, R-Rochester; Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn; Dan Kildee, D-Flint; Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, and Dave Trott, R-Birmingham.  Two other U-M alumni — Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Florida, and Grace Meng, D-New York — also participated.