Editorial

Michigan needs more commercialization efforts from URC

January 24, 2014
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The first few weeks of a New Year provide plenty of prognosticating and then proclamation. It is the fodder of government and education speeches and pronouncements.

The Business Journal finds such data is useful in accumulation of current trends but cautions the business community in using such as templates for business plans.

The same caution might be given to Michigan’s University Research Corridor, which announced economic impact study benchmarks at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University (the “Research Corridor”) in comparisons to seven other major university research clusters in six states. Those included well-known research hubs such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, California’s Innovation Hubs and Massachusetts’ Route 128 Corridor.

In part, the report provides incentive for state lawmakers to review commitment to college and university funding with the evidence of the economic impact, which has been given the support of the Business Journal.

The report offers insightful information and data in comparisons in three main areas: high-demand degrees, research and development spending and commercialization success. If the goal of the report is largely to provide impact evidence and support for funding, it is meeting the objective. The Business Journal suggests much more can be accomplished.

The URC weighted talent and research at 40 percent each, and technology transfer and commercialization at 20 percent, reflecting how large research universities typically allocate efforts. Similar formulas are used by local colleges and universities. The URC was No. 1 in talent, fourth in R&D spending and seventh in commercialization among its peers.

The commercialization effort is lacking both for its “weight” in the impact study and in accomplishment. Were it to become a mission focus, it would provide the pathways to future economic impact, not just measures of current accomplishment.

To that end, the URC already has created an important link to the business community and toward such opportunity. URC and Elsevier, a global provider of scientific, technical and medical information and services, developed a free, online tool enabling companies in Michigan and around the globe to tap into the expertise of the URC faculty researchers, high-tech facilities and other academic resources. The Expertise and Resource Portal is an online searchable database developed and maintained by the Michigan Corporate Relations Network, a collaboration of six research universities and the URC. Funded by a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the portal provides easy access for companies to link with experts who can help in development of new products or deal with technical challenges.

That’s the path to the future and more successful commercialization efforts.

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