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Michigan Impact

2014 spring Issue

Mary Sue Coleman

Dear Friends,

All of us know the fundamental changes under way with our state’s economy. I’ve often shared with you the University’s response to this transformation—a new way of thinking about the impact of our teaching and research.

We needed to adapt to rapid change, become more entrepreneurial, and refresh outdated modes of operation. At the University of Michigan, we are “all in” when it comes to entrepreneurship and innovation. We are always teachers. Now we are finding ways to teach the important concepts baked into entrepreneurial behavior.


Promoting, teaching and rewarding entrepreneurship builds a new mindset for today’s graduates and the universities that prepare them for the new economy. This embracing of innovation allows us to take the theoretical knowledge we have learned and apply it creatively—and practically—to a wide variety of situations.


The state of Michigan was known for its disruptive technologies in the early part of the 20th century. Today, in the early part of the 21st, our state and our university have forged opportunity out of adversity as we create the disruptive innovation to meet today’s needs. 

Several weeks ago I wrote asking for your support of Governor Snyder’s recommendation to increase higher education funding in next year’s budget. If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislator to convey how you feel about the governor’s proposal, I encourage you to do so.

As always, it’s a pleasure to share with you examples of our work throughout the state.

Mary Sue Coleman
Mary Sue Coleman
University of Michigan

Michigan’s University Research Corridor makes strong showing among eight leading U.S. research clusters

Michigan's University Research Corridor (URC) ranks high in a new measure that examines R&D spending, research commercialization, and talent production, according to a new Economic Impact Report released in January.

The URC – consisting of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University – ranked second in the Innovation Power Ranking when compared to seven other major university research clusters in six states, including well-known hubs such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, California’s Innovation Hubs and Massachusetts' Route 128 Corridor.

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Seeds planted long ago sprout a growing entrepreneurial and venture capital scene in Michigan

Michigan is steadily becoming a hot place for entrepreneurs and venture capital, and the U-M Ross School of Business has played a central role. Consider: The number of venture capital firms in Michigan grew from seven in 2001 to 20 in 2012, according to the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA).

Graduates of U-M, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University — which make up the Michigan University Research Corridor — have started or acquired businesses at double the national average rate among college graduates since 1996.

Venture capital investment spiked in Michigan to $232.3 million in 2012, up from $84.8 million in 2011, according to the MVCA. In 2012, the state's rank also jumped from 25 to 15 in national venture capital investment, according to the MVCA.

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‘Open innovation’ battery lab established at U-M with Ford, MEDC

A unique $8 million battery lab at the U-M will enable industry and university researchers to collaborate on developing cheaper and longer lasting energy storage devices in the heart of the U.S. auto industry.

Initial support for the lab includes $5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., $2.1 million from Ford Motor Co. and roughly $900,000 from the U-M College of Engineering. It will be housed at the U-M Energy Institute within the newly renovated Phoenix Memorial Laboratory – a project completed with $18 million in U-M funding.

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U-M leads state effort to create new standards for kids’ medicine, reduce medication errors

U-M will led a statewide initiative to reduce pediatric medication errors will make Michigan the first state to standardize concentrations for children’s liquid prescriptions.

U-M and the Michigan Pharmacists Association have announced the release of the new standards published on mipedscompounds.org as part of a sweeping campaign to educate prescribers and pharmacists in the state and rest of the country. The move comes after a survey of Michigan pharmacies revealed potential safety risks posed by the lack of standardization of compounded pediatric oral liquids for over 110 different medications in a variety of therapeutic categories.

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U-M honored nationally for economic development commitment

U-M is one of four public universities recognized by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for exemplary work statewide in entrepreneurship, technology transfer and business development.

U-M has won the APLU’s inaugural Economic Prosperity Award for its efforts in working with public- and private-sector partners in Michigan to support economic development. Other winners are Northern Illinois University, the State University of New York and the University of Cincinnati.

Specifically, U-M was recognized for the work of the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, the Business Engagement Center, and the Michigan Venture Center.

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U-M receives national economic development award

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman was honored in March by the International Economic Development Council for her leadership on economic development issues. Coleman was praised for her work for helping create Ann Arbor SPARK, a partnership between U-M and the Ann Arbor community focused on economic development. With the university as primary supporter, Ann Arbor SPARK has helped contribute to $1.4 billion in new investments in the region, created nearly 12,000 jobs and assisted over 400 innovative startup companies.

"The University of Michigan’s mission has always been teaching, research and service. I firmly believe our new, fourth obligation is economic development," said Coleman.

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Innovate Blue entrepreneurship initiative launches at SXSW 

Innovate Blue, the U-M’s initiative to make entrepreneurship education available to all undergraduates beginning this fall, has officially launched with a one-stop-shop website designed to inform and inspire.

The site lays out students' options for incorporating this type of training and exploration into their studies or their free time. It includes information about classes and academic programs across campus, and also about clubs, mentorship opportunities and students already working on their own startups. There are more than 50 on campus right now.

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