Accelerate Michigan Launches


DETROIT, Mich., September 21, 2010 – Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) and the University Research Corridor (URC) today announced the formation of a new partnership, called Accelerate Michigan, to help support efforts to make Michigan a “top ten” state for economic growth. Based on benchmarking performed by McKinsey & Company, the partnership will become one of the largest of its kind between a state’s largest businesses and research universities.

“Accelerate Michigan recognizes the strategic alliance between Michigan’s largest businesses and research universities that began with the inclusion of the research university presidents on the BLM board last year,” said Gerry Anderson, Chair of BLM’s Innovation Committee and President & COO of DTE Energy. “Michigan ranks high for both industry and university-based research. This partnership will help focus the efforts of both BLM and the URC to better connect those assets to stimulate economic growth, encourage entrepreneurial activity across the state, and put an international spotlight on Michigan as a hub for innovation.”

Accelerate Michigan was developed over the past year based on benchmarking industry-university partnerships in other states and identifying the most critical factors that have driven innovation-based growth in places like Silicon Valley, Massachusetts’ Route 128 Corridor and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. The work was conducted by McKinsey & Company and overseen by BLM’s Innovation Committee and URC leaders.

“It’s no longer about publish or perish, it’s about partner or perish,” said Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan. “Accelerate Michigan is a new kind of industry-university model for universities and the business community to work together where university innovation and business needs intersect in a way that will spur economic development.”

“Accelerate Michigan represents a commitment by the state’s largest companies to partner in the effort begun by the URC,” said Lou Anna Simon, President of Michigan State University. “While there are some great examples of where business and universities are working together, Accelerate Michigan will make this systemic and seamless.”

“Business and universities are both part of the solution to our economic challenges,” said Allan Gilmour, President of Wayne State University. “But it’s the combined power that can really make a difference. That’s what Accelerate Michigan is all about.”

Accelerate Michigan already has started work in three areas and set additional goals to accelerate the state’s economy:

  1. Championing Entrepreneurship & Innovation:
    1. Work underway: Accelerate Michigan is the lead sponsor of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, for which the Competition is named. It is one of the largest business plan competitions in the nation. The Competition was founded through a grant by the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan in partnership with the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan and launched last month with Accelerate Michigan providing underwriting support, sponsorships of sector competitions, judges and other in-kind support.
    2. Future work: Accelerate Michigan will develop an “exchange service” that connects URC research and innovation with BLM research and development needs and will also develop strategies to improve and expand entrepreneurial culture within the state.
  2. Growing Capacity to Scale Ideas
    1. Work underway: Accelerate Michigan is working with BLM’s Renaissance Venture Capital Fund (RVCF), which just completed its first closing of nearly $50 million, to identify opportunities to help Michigan-based innovative companies grow.
    2. Future work: Accelerate Michigan will partner with the RVCF to launch a second fund in 2012, establish a pre-seed commercialization fund and strengthen Michigan’s angel investor network.
  3. Catalyzing Clusters of Innovation
    1. Work underway: Research is underway to identify Michigan’s best opportunities to grow clusters of innovation based on university-industry R&D. The research will determine where BLM’s and URC’s R&D strengths most align, where federal R&D investments could jump start cluster development and how the organizations can jointly advocate for such investments.
    2. Future work: Accelerate Michigan will create a Science and Innovation Council consisting of the BLM’s and the URC’s R&D leaders to identify future opportunities for growth based on scientific advancements and to provide a source of technical advice to state policy leaders.
About Business Leaders for Michigan

Business Leaders for Michigan (, the state’s business roundtable, is dedicated to making Michigan a “Top Ten” state for job and economic growth. The organization is composed exclusively of the chairpersons, chief executives or most senior executives of Michigan’s largest companies and universities, which provide over 300,000 jobs in Michigan, generate over $1 Trillion in annual revenue and serve over 130,000 students. The organization’s work is defined by the Michigan Turnaround Plan, a holistic, fact-based strategy to get Michigan’s economy back on track. Visit for more information.

About the University Research Corridor

Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) is an alliance of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. It was founded to leverage the power of Michigan’s research universities to transform, strengthen and diversify the state’s economy.