LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) ― Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University ― continues to lead in preparing medical talent and remains competitive with the nation’s top university innovation clusters in talent, research and development (R&D) and technology transfer.

Compared to seven other peer clusters, which include California’s Silicon Valley, Massachusetts’ Route 128 and North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Michigan’s URC ranks third on the Innovation Power Index, a composite measure of how well research universities perform on key research university metrics, coming in behind only the California clusters. Those are just some of the findings in the annual Benchmark Report, prepared by East Lansing, Mich.-based Anderson Economic Group.


URC 2020 Benchmark map

Michigan’s URC is the only national innovation cluster comprised exclusively of public universities. It’s public mission serves the people and industries of Michigan, where its impact is felt in every county across the state. Michigan’s URC is also the only cluster with three medical doctors heading those institutions. (Read commentary from Michigan’s URC presidents regarding the universities’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Crain’s Detroit Business.)


Talent Development
  • The URC ranked first in enrollment (156,125 students) in 2018.
  • The URC ranked third in degrees granted (36,741 degrees) in 2018.
    • High-Tech Degrees: The URC granted 4.7 percent more high-tech degrees in 2018 than 2017 (11,775 total degrees), and was second in advanced high-tech degrees compared to peer clusters in 2018.
    • High-Demand Degrees: The URC ranked third among peer clusters in granting 12,735 high-demand degrees (business, computer science and engineering) in 2018 – an increase of 5.3 percent, which is particularly noteworthy because peer clusters experienced an average 2.8 percent decrease in high-demand degrees.
    • Medical Degrees: The URC ranked first (again) in awarding medical degrees (2,468 total degrees) – far surpassing the second rank cluster, North Carolina’s Research Triangle, which conferred 1,488 medical degrees. Overall the URC has increased medical degrees by 42 percent since 2008.


Research & Development
  • Ranking fifth among its peer clusters, the URC conducted $2.564 billion in total R&D in 2018, which is an increase of $102 million from 2017.
  • The URC increased its total R&D conducted by 64 percent since 2008 – far surpassing the peer cluster average and the average for all US institutions.
    • The URC accounts for 94 percent of all federally funded R&D in Michigan at $1.4 billion in 2018.
    • The URC ranks fourth in science & engineering R&D expenditures ($2,406 million) among its peers in 2018.
    • The URC is a powerhouse in social science R&D spending as a percentage of total R&D, spending three times the national average and nearly twice as much as its peer cluster average. The URC also outspends all their peer clusters in total expenditures for social science R&D, with $221.2 million.
    • At 35 percent, the URC spends a larger proportion of its funding on applied research than peer clusters in 2018.


Technology Transfer
  • The URC ranks second in licensing and options of technology (253 total licenses and options) – up one rank from last year – among its peers in 2018.
  • The URC ranked fourth in patents awarded (213 patents) among its peers in 2018.
  • Since 2002, the URC has created 266 startup companies, and nearly 40 percent of these – 103 startups – were created in the last five years