On May 30, the University Research Corridor reported continued economic benefits from its efforts to spur innovation and entrepreneurship.
The URC is a collaborative effort between the University , Wayne State University and Michigan State University that promotes entrepreneurial collaboration to “transform, strengthen and diversify the state’s economy.”
The collaboration has increasingly proven its efficiency and strength in supporting the numerous start-ups of its students. Since 1996, graduates of the three universities have either established or obtained businesses at twice the national average of college graduates across the country.
The report boasts a number of other statistics detailing the success of the cluster of universities. Of over 40,000 University graduates who answered the survey, 19.1 percent were responsible for starting at least one company. The survey showed that about half of these companies were started in Michigan.
Seven university innovation clusters, such as the URC, are found across the U.S. Among them, the URC provided the second highest number of high-demand degrees in 2011. Other clusters fueled by educational institutions include Silicon Valley in California, Route 128 in Boston and Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University are among the universities that support these innovation clusters.
URC Executive Director Jeff Mason said the report didn’t mean to compare the URC to similar initiatives. While he said the URC was successful in its own right, he said the report aimed to increase awareness of the collaboration and not only showed its past success, but also its continued improvement and dedication to the success of its graduates.
“You don’t see (many) institutions that collectively have $2 billion in research on an annual basis or graduate 31,000 students, half of which are in high-tech, high-demand degree areas.” Mason said. “I think that would indicate that we’re pretty successful at this and that with more attention and focus on this within the last few years and moving forward we’re just going to have more success moving forward.”
University alum Kalyan Handique, CEO of DeNovo Sciences, said his inspiration came from his time at the University. His graduate studies in chemical engineering exposed him to cutting-edge research in the field and helped lead him to a business that dealt with cancer-detection solutions. Although he did posses an academic degree in business, Handique credited his venture to his “desire to make a difference.”
“I was involved with some really cutting-edge research, but research doesn’t make sense unless you are really using it for society,” Handique said. “The best way to use technology is to really create a product and make sure it is available to consumers and is really of use.”
Handique attributed his success to the proper utilization of available resources. He said aspiring entrepreneurs should reach out for help, from both within and outside their own institutions.
“It’s not just the University of Michigan, it’s the whole area. It’s the eco-system that we have around southeast Michigan,” he said. “You have other universities around that want to make a difference.”