URC’s statewide economic impact tops $17 billion in FY 2014


Michigan’s University Research Corridor contributed $17.5 billion to Michigan’s economy in fiscal year 2014, an increase of $700 million over the previous year, according to the Ninth Annual Economic Impact & Benchmark Report released Tuesday.

The URC also ranked highly in the transfer of research and development, surpassing its five-year average for the number of patents issued, licensing and options activity, and invention disclosures for the third straight year.

The URC Annual Economic Impact Report at a glance. Click the photo to view a larger version.

The report also noted that every region in the state benefited from economic activities tied to the URC, including spending on operations, student spending and incremental alumni earnings.

The URC’s $17.5 billion net impact in Michigan is up from $16.8 billion the previous year and $12.9 billion in 2007, the first year the report was published. For every dollar the state invested in the three URC universities, Michigan saw $22 in economic benefits, according to the report. 

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

The URC retained its second place standing in the Innovation Power Ranking among the nation’s most respected innovation clusters for the third year in a row. The Southern California cluster (UCLA, UC-San Diego and USC) ranked first, and the Northern California cluster (UC-San Francisco, UC-Berkeley and Stanford) ranked third.

The Innovation Power Ranking was developed by Anderson Economic Group, preparers of the annual report, and compares the URC’s performance to peer university clusters in Northern California, Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania. The ranking indexes defining factors of leading research universities — talent, R&D and technology commercialization — to arrive at the ranking metric.

The URC’s $2.104 billion in R&D expenditures in FY 2014 marks an increase of more than 50 percent since 2007, when the URC first began benchmarking against the other innovation clusters. The rate of increase far surpassed the average for other university clusters as well as the average for all U.S. institutions, according to the report.

“Michigan’s leading research universities continue to advance in research and direct economic impact on every county in the state,” said URC Executive Director Jeff Mason. “The Ninth Annual Economic Impact Report demonstrates the collective power of the URC universities, which are highly competitive with the most respected clusters in the country.”

“The University Research Corridor’s impact extends far beyond the $17.5 billion financial investment that the three institutions bring to Michigan’s economy,” said Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Every day, Michigan’s leading research universities are improving lives and enriching communities — regionally, nationally and globally.”

The URC also ranked first in the talent composite score, a measurement of total number of degrees conferred and total number of high-tech degrees. The URC conferred 34,141 degrees including 2,332 medical degrees, the highest number of advanced degrees in the medicine and biological science fields of any peer university innovation cluster.

“The URC continues to lead the country in talent creation, producing graduates in medical fields and advanced degree programs at a higher rate than every other university cluster,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “Our immense pool of talent helps drive the economy and makes Michigan a more attractive place to live and do business.”

Since 2002, the three URC universities have cultivated 188 startup companies, including 71 that have formed in the past five years.

“Our three universities take research out of the lab and into the market, keeping jobs and investment dollars here in our backyard,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “Not only is world class research taking place within the walls of our institutions, the URC’s entrepreneurial graduates are extending that reach to drive business results in the state.”

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.

As of summer 2015, the URC universities had more than 1.2 million alums worldwide. The 629,000 living in Michigan account for more than 9 percent of the state’s population over age 24. 


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