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University Research Corridor analysis: lots of good but underutilized assets

06.04.07 | technician | In ann arbor, midtown, school, east lansing

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich.—The University Research Corridor presidents Thursday released a preliminary independent analysis showing that URC’s assets for a knowledge economy are comparable to those found in regions of the country known for their economic vitality.

The analysis showed that the assets of the three universities involved in the University Research Corridor, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University, are comparable to North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Boston’s Route 128 Corridor in Massachusetts and Penn State/Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon in Pennsylvania. But we as a state don’t support the universities and their research as well as other states. Also the universities need to do a better job turning research into viable businesses. I should add that as much trouble as Ann Arbor and Detroit have in attracting top talent who can choose where they live based on the lifestyle and amenities that the city offers, Kalamazoo and the Lansing area will need to do even more to improve themselves in offering the various urban lifestyles that young people desire today (although one could argue this isn’t a big problem as long as we’re only competing with North Carolina or Western Pennsylvania).

  • –URC spends more than over $1.3 billion per year on R&D, comparable to or more than counterparts in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In 2004, URC ranked highest among the four groups. By 2005, however, North Carolina pulled ahead due to its accelerated growth rate.
  • –URC outranked its Pennsylvania and North Carolina peers in the number of patents granted and licensing revenue, two strong measures of innovation and economic growth, with an average of 126 patents per year compared to 111 in North Carolina and 123 in Pennsylvania. The Massachusetts cluster of Harvard, MIT and Tufts were granted 204 patents.
  • –Michigan’s growth rate for academic R&D is trailing rival regions. Each gets about 60 percent or more of its research funding from the federal government but the Research Triangle gets at least twice as much from state government and industry.
  • –Between 2004 and 2005, URC research grew by 3.7 percent compared to increases of 5.5 percent in Pennsylvania and 11.7 percent for the North Carolina group, largely due to growing assistance from state and local governments, and industry.
  • –North Carolina is investing significantly more in the fledging life sciences industry (73 percent in the Research Triangle versus 63 percent in Michigan’s URC) while Massachusetts and Pennsylvania spend a much smaller percentage.

On this last item I should note that the Kalamazoo-Ann Arbor-Detroit corridor is already strong in biotech although still behind the biggest players, Boston, the Bay Area, and San Diego. It’s considered second-tier. This is an industry in which we clearly have potential to create and grow businesses and high-paying jobs. This is where incubator step in and this is also where it’s important to have previous generations of entrepreneurs who know how to pull off technology startups and also gain access to venture capital.

Read the whole report here.


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