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Research partnerships spur innovation

Research partnerships between URC universities and Michigan-based companies help lay the groundwork for innovation that can not only sustain the vitality of the state’s businesses but also strengthen the economy of the state and the nation over the long term.

The Dow Chemical Company for example, recently awarded four professors at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering and College of Pharmacy a total of up to $3.7 million over five years. The funds support research that could one day lead to medicines that are easier to digest, paints that are less harmful to the environment, and spreadsheet tools that better suit scientists’ needs.

“Dow started in Midland, Michigan, and our world headquarters remains in the state 116 years later,” said Dr. Theresa Kotanchek, vice president of Sustainable Technologies and Innovation Sourcing at Dow. “Over the years we have utilized the power of science and engineering to transform the company, and the University of Michigan has played a leading role throughout.”

The grants to U-M are part of a major program at Dow to award $250 million to top universities in the U.S. over a period of 10 years to ensure a talent pipeline and research that can address the challenges of the twenty-first century.

In another program at U-M, Dow will provide $10 million over six years to support the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program. The Program includes fellowships for master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral students conducting research in such fields as natural social sciences, engineering, business, law, public health, public policy, architecture, and urban planning. These scholars will learn together how to integrate the perspectives of these disciplines to help solve sustainability challenges, including energy, climate change, water, food, housing, transportation, and health.

In announcing the program Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow, explained that the goal of the collaborative partnership at U-M is to “give rise to the next generation of innovators in Michigan and across the world.”