Connecting Business with State Experts
to Bolster Economic Development
By Pam Goins, CSG Director of Education Policy
As businesses try to find sites to locate or expand services, they also often search for experts or researchers with which to establish a consulting relationship.
Recent data collected by the Association of University Technology Managers indicates a positive correlation between money spent on academic research and success in economic development. As states and localities compete for industry investment and jobs in an uncertain global economy, business leaders need greater access to state and local experts for guidance on the expected benefits and costs of economic development projects to make sound decisions.
“From an economic development perspective, research networking systems help enable collaboration between the academic and industry sectors in a highly effective manner,” said Daniel Calto, director of solution services in the academic and government institutional markets of SciVal/Reed Elsevier, a global provider of professional information solutions. “They allow any system user to quickly find the right partners, ones with the requisite skill and knowledge to collaborate on a specific project.”
SciVal Experts is one research networking opportunity used by a growing number of higher education institutions and government agencies. The system collects information about academic researchers and experts to create a searchable and comprehensive picture of organizational expertise across a number of institutions. Elsevier’s Academic and Governments Institutional Markets group has created a variety of advanced analytical tools to help academic executives, industry scientists, government funding agencies and policymakers make better evidence-based decisions on key research strategies.
“These systems turn what is currently an ad hoc and disorganized process, namely seeking experts outside of your direct area of expertise, into a more systematic and reliable one,” Calto said. “The larger these research networks become, the greater value they have—the network effect in action.”
Michigan has been utilizing such a system since 2006, when three university presidents launched the University Research Corridor with a vision to unite and strengthen the state’s prosperity, playing a key role in creating a vibrant Michigan economy that leverages the intellectual capital of its three public research universities. Michigan’s University Research Corridor is one of the nation’s top academic research clusters and the leading engine for innovation in Michigan and the Great Lakes region.
“An alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, the (University Research Corridor) is focused on increasing economic prosperity and connecting Michigan to the world,” said Jeff Mason, executive director of the University Research Corridor. “At its core, the (University Research Corridor) is focused on innovation through research and development, talent development and collaboration.”
Mason noted in 2012, the three University Research Corridor universities produced more than $2 billion in research and development, granted degrees to nearly 32,500 graduates and contributed $16.6 billion to Michigan’s economy. The University Research Corridor institutions also have started more than 160 companies since 2002.
“The alliance makes Michigan attractive to business and talent by training the next generation of highly skilled, in-demand workers, finding solutions through innovative research, and fostering an array of international business and academic partnerships,” Mason said.
Michigan Corporate Relations Network is an outgrowth of the corporate relations offices created at Michigan State, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University to better and more seamlessly connect the needs of industry to the resources at the universities.
The University Experts Portal, a searchable research networking system that profiles every researcher at public higher education institutions in Michigan, is connected to each corporate relations office on the campuses to provide personal assistance to businesses. Once a business has identified an area of research or an expert, or a number of them, the portal connects the business to the corporate relations office(s) to provide personalized service to make certain the business’ needs are met.
A complimentary CSG webinar, “Utilizing Analytical Tools to Connect Higher Education and Business for Economic Development,” scheduled for Feb. 26, will focus on a variety of advanced analytical tools to help academic executives, industry scientists and policymakers make better evidence-based decisions on key research strategies.
Speakers will showcase the Michigan Corporate Relations Network, Michigan’s University Research Corridor and the University Experts Portal. The portal allows industry scientists and small and mid-sized enterprises to quickly identify individuals with very specific expertise in order to engage in collaborative research. The portal also serves as a one-stop shop listing all state programs, as well as innovative programs sponsored by the state of Michigan.