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 Daryl Weinert, executive director of the University of Michigan’s Business Engagement Center. “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 fifteen 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% of the academic research done in Michigan in 2009), 99% of all patent activity, and over 160,000 students spread across the state.
“Michigan is one of the top states in the nation for research and development with more than $16 billion in industrial R&D and close to $2 billion in university research,’’ said Michael Finney, CEO and President of the MEDC, who chairs the MSF. “Companies like Google, Facebook and Dell were born on college campuses and we want to keep helping our leading universities turn the latest developments into jobs."
In addition to enhancing comprehensive Business Engagement Offices, creating a web-based Experts Portal, and offering access to University library resources for companies and entrepreneurs, MCRN has developed three signature program activities. For small companies, MCRN is creating a Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP) plus initiating a Small Company Internship Award (SCIA), and, for larger firms, piloting an Instant Innovation Program.