Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Top businesses, research universities partner to boost state’s economic growth efforts

Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) and the University Research Corridor (URC) have formed Accelerate Michigan to help support efforts to make Michigan a “top 10” state for economic growth.

Click here to watch a video about Accelerate Michigan.

Based on benchmarking performed by McKinsey & Co., the alliance will become one of the largest of its kind between a state’s largest businesses and research universities. U-M is part of the URC along with Michigan State and Wayne State 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,” says Gerry Anderson, chair of BLM’s Innovation Committee, and the president and chief operating officer 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 & Co. and overseen by BLM’s Innovation Committee and URC leaders.

“It’s no longer about publish or perish; it’s about partner or perish,” says U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. “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,” says Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon. “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,” says Wayne State Interim President Allan Gilmour. “But it’s the combined power that can really make a difference. That’s what Accelerate Michigan is all about.”

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

• Championing Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Work under way: Accelerate Michigan is the lead sponsor of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, one of the largest business-plan competitions in the nation. The competition was launched last month with Accelerate Michigan providing underwriting support, sponsorships of sector competitions, judges and other in-kind support.

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.

• Growing Capacity to Scale Ideas

Work under way: 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.

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.

• Catalyzing Clusters of Innovation

Work under way: Research is under way to identify Michigan’s best opportunities to grow clusters of innovation based on university-industry research and development. 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.

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.