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Posted on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 : 9:10 a.m.

Michigan's research universities generate $14.5 billion economic impact, study finds

By Nathan Bomey

The financial impact generated by the University Research Corridor - a coalition of Michigan's three research universities - increased 10 percent from 2007 to 2009 despite the global economic downturn, according to a new study.

The URC - formed in 2006 by the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University - generated an "economic impact" in Michigan of $14.5 billion, up almost 10 percent from a report delivered in 2006.

The new study, commissioned by the URC and conducted by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group, found that the three universities collectively spent $1.4 billion on research over a 12-month period.

The report comes two weeks after U-M said that its annual research budget had topped $1 billion for the first time, in part due to federal economic stimulus spending.

"What the report seems to signal is that these three research universities are significant contributors to growing and diversifying the state’s economy," URC executive director Jeff Mason said in an interview.

The report also found that the URC:

• Earned the third most patents among seven major university clusters throughout the country.

• Created 28 startup companies in the 2008 calendar year, up 100 percent from 14 in 2007.

• Award more than 7,600 high-tech degrees annually, the third largest among the university clusters, behind only southern California and Pennsylvania.

• Counts more than 572,000 alumni living in Michigan.

The report comes as the federal government is investing heavily in early-stage R&D via the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But those dollars are largely not reflected in this report, which covers an earlier period, Mason said.

"Our hope is that the stimulus dollars, while temporary, also lead to more investment at the federal level in long-term research and development and reinvestment," Mason said.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter.