Procter & Gamble relationship paves way for improved ties to industry, University of Michigan says
A new research agreement between consumer products maker Procter & Gamble and Michigan's top three research universities paves the way for a more efficient relationship between industry and academia, officials said.
The agreement, announced by Gov. Rick Snyder during the State of the State address Wednesday night, provides the legal framework for research relationships between P&G and the University Research Corridor, a coalition between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.
With the agreement in place, P&G can start conducting research projects with those universities at any time without having to worry about constructing individual legal agreements.
"It can takes months and months for the legal agreements to get in place," said Daryl Weinert, executive director of U-M's Business Engagement Center. "Now, basically the research can get started immediately. We think this enables us to move more at the speed of business, which is what we need to encourage more of these collaborations with businesses."
P&G spokeswoman Lisa Popyk said the agreement was designed to expedite P&G's product research. She said the traditionally sluggish road to establishing partnerships between businesses and universities is a hurdle to innovation.
"A lot of times what that means is while a business is committed to working with the university, they're daunted by what it's going to take to get these agreements," Popyk said.
After a trial period, P&G plans to extend the agreement to Michigan's 12 other public universities. The company has a similar relationship with all public universities in Ohio.
The University Research Corridor spends about $1.6 billion on research annually, but only 4 percent of that comes from industry relationships, URC executive director Jeff Mason said. The average among U.S. research universities is 6 percent -- and at some universities it's as high as 15 percent, Mason said.
"These types of agreements, or this type of engagement, helps us grow those numbers of industry participation more quickly and is another place where we can be successful in growing the research, as well as hopefully growing jobs," Mason said.
Weinert said the P&G relationship sets the stage for similar agreements with other companies in the future.
Officials said they also hope the relationship between P&G and the universities will give students a chance to experience working with a major global company.
Snyder said it would "provide opportunities for Michigan students to gain firsthand exposure to large companies and the real business world, while exposing these companies to top talent and potential future employees."
Procter & Gamble has 127,000 employees and some $75.25 billion in annual revenue, according to Yahoo! Finance.