In an effort to support economic development, Michigan's three largest higher education institutions – the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University – formed the University Research Corridor (URC) in 2007.
In 2014, the URC contributed $17.5 billion to the state economy, which is $700 million up from the $16.8 billion impact in the previous year, and 35% up from 2007, according to a report conducted by the Anderson Economic Group.
For every dollar the state invests in the three URC universities, Michigan now reaps $22 in economic benefits.
The URC’s $2.104 billion in R&D expenditures in 2014 marks an increase of more than 50% since 2007, when the URC first began benchmarking against the other innovation clusters. This growth far surpassed the growth for all U.S. institutions, as well as the growth for the peer cluster average (31% and 41%, respectively). Overall, the URC ranks fifth among the eight clusters for total R&D in 2014.
The URC retained its second place standing in Anderson’s Innovation Power Ranking for the third year in a row. This ranking indexes defining factors of leading research universities such as talent, R&D and technology commercialization, to arrive at the ranking metric. URC is sandwiched in this ranking between the Southern California cluster (UCLA, UC-San Diego and USC) which is ranked first, and the Northern California cluster (UC-San Francisco, UC-Berkeley and Stanford) which is ranked third.
Since 2002, the three URC universities have cultivated 188 start-up companies, including 71 which have formed in the past five years. All told, more than 19% of URC alumni have founded or co-founded a business, adding an estimated 380,000 businesses to the economy by URC alumni worldwide. Nearly half of these businesses were started in Michigan, and continue to contribute to the economy and spur further innovation throughout the state.
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. University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said that “Our immense pool of talent helps drive the economy and makes Michigan a more attractive place to live and do business.”
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said that “Our three universities take research out of the lab and into the market, keeping jobs and investment dollars here in our backyard.”