Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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U Michigan tops $100M in corporate research dollars


By David Schwartz
Published: December 19th, 2017

The University of Michigan’s business engagement program has yielded $142.8 million in total corporate investment in the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to UM’s first-ever annual report on industry partnerships. Research spending accounts for $100 million of the total, with philanthropy making up the remainder.

Those numbers are up dramatically since 2007, when research spending totaled $38.3 million and philanthropic giving totaled $27.4 million. There was a marked increase in corporate-sponsored research in just the past year, rising $15 million from the 2016 total of $85.2 million, according to spokeswoman Sheila Waterhouse.

Since opening in 2007, the Business Engagement Center has built relationships with more than 900 companies across the world, nearly tripling the public research institution’s reach, the news release said. Almost 160 of those companies are based in Michigan — 134 in Southeast Michigan and 83 in metro Detroit, Waterhouse said. Among those are more than 10 master research agreements.

“After years of declining federal funding, industry has stepped in to fill a very critical gap,” said Jack Hu, U-M vice president for research. “I see this trend continuing and see opportunity for industry — both domestic and international — to connect with U-M for comprehensive student support and dynamic research.”

The BEC reports jointly to the Office of Research and Office of University Development, a model that works very well in U-M’s decentralized university. This unique structure has drawn heavy interest from other universities, many of which have looked to the BEC for advice on establishing a similar structure.

Daryl Weinert, the BEC’s first executive director and current associate vice president for research, said the center has become known as a leader nationally and globally for its impact across campus and for providing seamless, service-oriented assistance to external and internal partners.

“The number of schools who have come through to kick the tires and learn from U-M is astounding,” Weinert said. “It’s great to see that our mentorship has helped many institutions develop their own model of corporate engagement.”

Stella Wixom, the BEC’s executive director, said the trend in industry involvement and need for continued support is an opportunity to celebrate. “We started with U-M leadership behind us and with that foundation, the place we’ve been able to take corporate engagement with the state of Michigan and our corporate partners has wildly exceeded our expectations,” Wixom said. “And the best is yet to come.”

Sources: Michigan News and Crain’s Detroit Business

Posted under: Industry-Sponsored Research Week

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