URC Report: Michigan's Top Research Universities

Providing talent, innovations for ‘new’ auto industry


MACKINAC ISLAND — The University Research Corridor schools confer more than 3,600 degrees annually in auto-ready careers and have spent more than $300 million on auto-related research in the past five years, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The independent analysis, “The URC’s Contributions to Automotive Innovations,” conducted by Anderson Economic Group, is the URC’s fifth annual report that quantifies and assesses industry sectors where the universities’ research and development play a major role. It highlights the competitive pressures facing the auto industry, particularly in the state of Michigan.

“In order to respond to challenges such as intense competition, increasing consumer demands and governmental regulations, automakers have continually needed to innovate and improve their products and operations,” said CEO Patrick Anderson of AEG.

“These top institutions have created and sustained a pool of talent and know-how that has attracted both domestic and international companies to locate their research and development centers in the state. Michigan accounts for 28 percent of all jobs in the automotive sector, with more than 136,000 Michigan residents employed in the industry.”

Some highlights from the report:

• The URC universities supply talented workers to the auto industry, conferring more than 3,600 degrees annually in “auto-ready” disciplines.

• Between FY 2007 and 2011, the URC universities spent $300 million on more than 1,400 auto projects. Nearly two-thirds of this research was funded by federal and state governmental agencies.

• Private industry funded 28 percent of all auto research at the URC universities in the past five years, which is nine times the average share of industry funding for all university R&D at these institutions.

• URC researchers have helped automakers improve vehicle quality and safety, improve engine efficiency and performance, and reduce fossil fuel use through new auto approaches, such as biofuels research that is currently being done by MSU on new types of feedstocks that can be grown more economically to lower fuel costs and improve fuel efficiency.

“The URC universities fulfill two important roles within the auto industry,” said Jeff Mason, executive director of the URC. The first is that they are an important resource for basic and applied research for the auto industry. Second, the URC acts as a pipeline for the highly educated talent that the industry critically needs, coupled with cutting-edge innovation happening at top research institutions that helps to move our state’s economy and the industry forward.

The Auto Sector report is the fifth annual industry sector report commissioned by the URC and conducted by AEG. To view the full reports, visit: www.urcmich.org.