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The Michigan Corporate Relations Network’s (MCRN) impact on businesses in the state of Michigan was felt across the state in 2018.

The organization’s two signature funding programs, the Small Company Internship Award (SCIA) and the Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP), awarded matching research and internship funds to over 110 Michigan-based companies last year.

Michigan’s 15 public universities participate in the network, providing Michigan small companies the opportunity to hire summer interns or partner with faculty experts for research critical to their business.

One of MCRN’s primary goals is to retain top talent in the state of Michigan. SCIA works to accomplish this goal by helping small companies and startups pay to hire student interns for the summer. The award matches half of an intern’s total wages, up to $3,500–an amount that at a small company can be the difference between hiring an intern or going without.  Students are in turn exposed to a potentially more engaging experience than an entry-level position at a global corporation out of state. In 2018, 122 students interned at 99 different companies, from Detroit to Sault Ste. Marie, through SCIA.  The majority of these interns were either hired full-time, retained in a continued internship, or hired part-time.

Bryce Kriegman, a recently graduated U-M Master’s student in Material Science & Engineering, interned at Nanosystems Inc., says, “This internship has given me an opportunity to lead my own research and develop industry connections, something that wouldn’t necessarily be possible at a larger company right off the bat.”

Enabling small businesses to access the resources they need to commercialize ideas or further develop their products is another significant way MCRN assists companies.

SCIP provided $428K in matching research funds to 18 companies for projects in industries that span the STEM spectrum, including advanced manufacturing, information technology, and life sciences. Nineteen research projects in total were funded at U-M Ann Arbor, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Michigan Technological University, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, and Ferris State University.

SCIP-awarded companies also earned $203M in sales and received $9.2 million in follow on investments through other state funding, federal programs, and venture capital in 2018.

Stella Wixom, Senior Executive Director of the Business Engagement Center at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, and manager of the program, states: “MCRN’s collaborative environment serves to ensure that all companies in Michigan have access to the right students and researchers for their needs. Our intention is to build the strongest network of university engagement for businesses in the state. We see these results playing out every year in huge economic returns that have a positive impact on communities, businesses, and families in Michigan.”

MCRN is funded through the entrepreneurship and innovation initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Public universities participating in MCRN include:

Central Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Ferris State University

Grand Valley State University

Lake Superior State University

Michigan State University

Michigan Technological University

Northern Michigan University

Oakland University

Saginaw Valley State University

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

University of Michigan – Flint

University of Michigan – Dearborn

Wayne State University

Western Michigan University

More information on MCRN and these funding programs can be found at