June 2012 | Home
Video: If a box is "still unpacked," does that mean it's still full or still empty?
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In this month's column, Victor Katch hits us where it hurts: right in the gut.
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Discover the ties that bind Bonnie and Clyde to Superman and Streisand.
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Video: Equipment manager Jon Falk reflects on nearly four decades working with the Wolverines' football program.
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Video: New program brings together hundreds of students to solve sustainability challenges.
An online magazine for alumni and friends of U-M.
Michigan's Top Research Universities Energize Auto Industry
June 20, 2012
The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University together 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 May 30.
The three universities comprise the state's University Research Corridor (URC). The consortium was formed to allow the URC to leverage its collective assets, encourage collaboration, and increase business partnerships, with an overarching goal of accelerating statewide economic development.
"The URC's Contributions to Automotive Innovations," an independent analysis conducted by Anderson Economic Group (AEG), 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," says Patrick Anderson, CEO of AEG. "Michigan has been home to much of this innovation due to the clustering of auto manufacturers and their suppliers in the state, along with the presence of world-class research universities in the area.
"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 auto industry faces ever-higher demands to improve performance and quality at a lower cost. The URC universities are involved in every step of the innovation process to meet these challenges.
- 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. Specific examples include: the 2mm project that involved U-M and WSU that limited and controlled the gaps between auto components; connected vehicle research at U-M and WSU that promises improved vehicle safety by allowing them to "talk" to one another and infrastructure; and 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 has a net economic impact on Michigan's economy of $15.2 billion. The Auto Sector report is the fifth annual industry sector report commissioned by the URC and conducted by AEG. Below are brief summaries of previous reports:
Information and Communication Technology (2011)
- The URC universities spent nearly $74 million on research projects with a strong IT focus in FY2010.
- Of the nearly 150 startups the URC has assisted in creating since 2001, approximately 40 percent have had a distinct ICT component.
- Information technology employs about 3.5 percent of the state's workforce, or about 135,000 workers, and is significant not only as its own sector but as the underpinning for much of the major industry activity and growth represented in previous sector reports.
- The industry pays high wages, with employees earning about $20,000 more than other workers in the private sector.
Advanced Manufacturing (2010)
- Michigan's advanced manufacturing industry employs 381,351 workers, accounting for 10.3 percent of all employment (2007 data). Fully one-third of advanced manufacturing jobs in the Midwest are in Michigan.
- Average wages in the advanced manufacturing industry were $64,122.
- URC universities spent $101 million on advanced manufacturing R&D in 2009.
- URC universities are educating more than 14,000 students in engineering.
Life Sciences (2009)
- Michigan's life sciences industry employed more than 79,000 workers, accounting for 2.1 percent of all employment (2006 data).
- Between 1999 and 2006, life sciences industry employment grew by 10.7 percent while during that same time period manufacturing employment dropped by 24 percent.
- Life sciences wages averaged $83,494 in 2006.
- In 2008, URC universities spent $887 million on life sciences research and development.
- R&D expenditures grew 69 percent since the founding of the Life Sciences Corridor in 1999.
Alternative Energy Research and Development (2008)
- Michigan has a comparative advantage in biomass and wind compared to the energy potential in the other 49 states.
- URC universities spent more than $79.5 million on R&D related to alternative energy in 2007.
- Federal funding provided 71 percent ($56.8 million) of total R&D funding in alternative energy.
- More than 50 percent of all alternative energy R&D supported the auto industry.