The Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) began as a collaboration between six of Michigan’s leading research universities. It was started in 2011, with support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Strategic Fund Board (MSF), to create the first statewide network in the country to provide a critical and unique tool for business growth and attraction.
“Academia’s role in the economy is rapidly changing,” said Stella Wixom, Senior Executive Director at the University of Michigan. “It’s critical that we recognize businesses as clients and be responsive to their needs. The MCRN Network will create partnerships that will connect industry to critical university assets that can contribute to their growth and productivity and, at the same time, enhance the teaching and research at our universities.”
The MCRN was established with six of the 15 public universities in the state of Michigan including: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Michigan Technological University, Western Michigan University, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn. These six schools represent a broad research and geographic footprint across the state. Collectively, these universities represent over $1.8 billion of research (98 percent of the academic research done in Michigan in 2009), 99 percent of all patent activity, and over 160,000 students spread across the state.
In 2017, nine public universities were added as affiliate members of MCRN. They include Eastern Michigan University, Ferris State University, Saginaw Valley State University, Oakland University, Lake Superior State University, Northern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, and University of Michigan-Flint. The immediate contribution to small businesses and students in Michigan was significant and allowed broad access to resources and talent across the state of Michigan.
In addition to enhancing comprehensive business engagement offices and providing access to experts on campuses, MCRN has developed two signature program activities. For small companies, MCRN offers a Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP) to provide access to research and a Small Company Internship Award (SCIA) to provide access to talent.
In 2019, an updated MCRN Faculty Expertise Portal was launched to provide easy access to researchers across the state of Michigan.