University of Michigan: U-M research contributed nearly $100M to state’s economy in ’21

The University of Michigan research enterprise contributed $97 million to Michigan’s economy over the past fiscal year, supporting employment across large and small businesses statewide, according to a new report from the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science.

The report details how university research spending impacts the economy and provides a geographic snapshot of Michigan-based vendors that have supplied goods and services to support U-M research and scholarship activity.

Michigan-based companies have received more than $517 million since 2017 to supply goods and services in support of U-M research projects. This includes everything from beakers and laboratory supplies to specially designed pediatric treadmills used by kinesiology researchers to improve the walking habits of children born with Down syndrome.

“Research led by teams across our three campuses continues to spur tremendous advancements that positively impact society, and as part of this important activity, we all play an essential role in accelerating economic growth and strengthening our workforce,” said Rebecca Cunningham, U-M vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

Companies based in Wayne County, for example, received more than $35 million through contracts with U-M researchers since 2017. One of those companies, a Detroit-based welding supply corporation, received $2.3 million in research-related contracts over a three-year span to support a wide variety of U-M projects, ranging from microelectronics and health care to sustainability.

In Muskegon County, a construction company that specializes in docks and related materials, worked with U-M on the Fish Habitat Restoration in the St. Clair River project led by Michigan Sea Grant. The company received a $1 million contract to build artificial spawning reef units along the river, aiding in the recovery of its local lake sturgeon population.

A small, woman-owned business based in Burton has received more than $500,000 in research-related contracts since 2017 for its work in supplying teams across U-M with general laboratory supplies and equipment found in most research spaces across the three campuses.

“IRIS data highlight the many ways the academic research enterprise contributes to the state of Michigan,” said IRIS Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith, a professor of sociology and executive director of the Research Analysis and Data Integration Office, a unit based in the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The Institute for Research on Innovation and Science is a national consortium of research universities based at the Institute for Social Research and organized around an IRB-approved data repository. IRIS reports are available to members when they submit their administrative research spending data, which then links them to various other datasets to produce reports. No individual businesses, employees or students are identifiable in these reports.

More than 350 researchers have accessed IRIS data through its virtual data enclave, and dozens of published papers and three books have used the data.

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