AgroLiquid – St. Johns, MI

Research & Development

In Michigan, companies can leverage the state’s position as the global capital of vehicle R&D with tens of thousands of engineers and scientists working toward new solutions. We understand what it takes to develop new, innovative technologies because manufacturing is in our DNA! That is why the world’s most innovative corporations, including every major vehicle-related manufacturer and supplier, have established over 330 R&D tech centers here–more than anywhere else in North America.

Meanwhile, as auto production continues to contract, the state’s economy is making the transition to a more diversified and resilient industrial base. Companies are finding opportunities in the production of everything from medical devices to military hardware and increasingly alternative energy technologies. With nearly 15,000 manufacturing establishments in the state, Michigan’s high-quality engineering and skilled manufacturing continue to attract employers in emerging 21st Century industries. Michigan R & D capabilities and capacities include:

In addition to outstanding transportation and highway systems and central U.S. location, Michigan is home to one-third of the nation’s research and development facilities and is the #1 state for vehicle-related R&D — spending $11.8 billion annually.

  • Michigan supports over 1,000 high-tech R&D labs, including industrial and research assets at 360 research sites focused on industrial technology. We also have forged unparalleled university resources and partnerships.
  • Michigan leads the nation in industrial R&D investment spending per dollar of gross state product and trails only CA in total expenditures at $15.2B.
  • Michigan has the 4th largest high tech workforce in the nation, providing companies with highly educated employees they need right now.
  • Earlier this year, General Electric announced today that it’s in-sourcing a key R&D facility to a site just outside of Detroit.
  • Today, close to 80,000 Michigan residents are working in the life science industry producing cutting edge research, designing new devices, developing life-saving therapies, and engineering innovative diagnostics.
  • Michigan is home to over 65,000 skilled engineers, technicians, and manufacturing professionals, who contribute to the over 3,000 patents filed in Michigan each year.
  • Michigan has the nation’s most skilled workforce for the advanced manufacturing industry.
  • Michigan’s success in launching the domestic advanced battery industry has made it the hub of the domestic battery industry.
  • In 2006, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University founded the University Research Corridor (URC). During the past five years, URC was among the top three clusters for generating patents, 136 to be exact, and created twice as much licensing revenue than the more commonly recognized Research Triangle cluster comprised of Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State universities.
  • Michigan ranks 4th in the nation for the number of engineering graduates, and 7th for the number of patents awarded.
  • The University of Michigan ranks 2nd in the nation for R&D grants according to the National Science Foundation.
  • Michigan’s research universities remain the nation’s leader in enrollment and awarded more high-tech degrees than 48 other states in the U.S.
  • Michigan State University has the #1 logistics program in the county.
  • We are the home to 47 of the top 50 global automotive suppliers.

Michigan has played an important role in defense and homeland security since World War II and today is home to an impressive number of military and defense-related advanced research labs, testing grounds, and bases including:

  • The U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command for combat and tactical wheeled vehicles and weapon systems.
  • The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center
  • The National Automotive Center for military ground vehicle research and development.
  • The Department of Defense Joint Center for Robotics.
  • The Program Executive Office for Combat Service & Combat Service Support.
  • The Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems.

Entrepreneurial R & D

The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (MI-sbTdc) is the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) “feet on the street,” working with entrepreneurs to develop businesses from conception to achieving positive cash-flow. MI-sbTdc offers Michigan’s most comprehensive entrepreneur and small business development program. They provide counseling, training, research, and advocacy for new ventures, existing small businesses, and innovative technology companies including technology counselors to provide more in-depth support and a road mapping tool that helps clients evaluate the direction of their technology, departmentalize concepts and chart strategic direction.

As an initiative of the Small Business Administration, the MI-sbTdc is a federal, state, and local collaboration designed to develop entrepreneurial talent and support the start-up and growth of new ventures in Michigan.

The MI-sbTdc has 12 regional centers and over 30 locations throughout Michigan to serve entrepreneurs statewide, offering training workshops, one-on-one counseling, and market research tools at no or low cost. State-funded programs include delivering the Kauffman FastTrac series statewide and specialized technology road mapping and commercialization counselors with the expertise to assist in securing equity financing.

Research partnership between universities helps spur growth for Michigan’s economy

In November 2006, Michigan’s three largest universities announced a collaborative effort to provide a catalyst for economic and developmental growth across the state. Officials today could not be happier with its impact.

The University Research Corridor, or URC, — comprised of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University — contributes to the state’s ability to foster job creation, retain graduates and spur competition among other national and worldwide research “clusters,” said Jeff Mason, executive director of the URC. The URC is Michigan’s top research and academia alliance formed to positively benefit the state.

The universities share faculty and research projects, and out of that comes growth. Research topics range from Great Lakes climate studies to stem cells.
In the 2010 Empowering Michigan report, the net economic impact to the state of the alliance reached about $14.8 billion — an increase of about 15 percent since 2006’s about $12.9 billion.

“The pace of research and development taking place within the URC and the three universities (is) actually accelerating,” Mason said. “Things are very positive despite a very struggling economy.”

When globalization is key to university research, large and complex problems require partnerships, said Steve Webster, MSU’s vice president for governmental affairs.

“No one institution is going to be able to solve these challenges in front of us,” he said. “We have an opportunity to gain access to intellectual property, faculty, and students where necessary.”

Bang for the Buck

Since the URC’s establishment, the alliance has contributed more than $10 billion to the state’s economy each year, resulting in numerous factors for growth.

Net financial impact is measured as a combination of operating expenditures, URC alumni earnings, student expenditures, and faculty staff wages and benefits.

In the 2010 report, Michigan’s alliance was rated and compared to other “clusters” across the country, including Massachusetts’ “cluster” of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tufts University, for example.

Out of the seven “clusters,” Michigan’s ranked high in undergraduate and graduate student enrollment with 137,152 students as well as cultivating an average of 14 start-up companies, said Patrick Anderson, founder of Anderson Economic Group, which led the 2010 Empowering Michigan report.

Ranking No. 1 in student enrollment and No. 5 in start-up companies both contribute to having a large student base that might stay in the state post-graduation, he said.

“It’s important for people to realize the whole is larger than the sum of the parts,” Anderson said. “Having three great research universities in the state of Michigan is a big advantage.”

For a complete list of Michigan State University’s research facilities, please visit:


MSU Research History

Historic discoveries at MSU include the research that led to the development of hybrid corn and the process still used for the homogenization of milk. In addition, MSU researchers developed the platinum-based compounds cisplatin and carboplatin, which lead all other anticancer drugs in sales and have saved tens of thousands of lives in the treatment of certain cancers. Much of the information below comes from the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station Research History (the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station or MAES is now known as AgBioResearch). Other sources of research history include a video, The Great Experiment: MSU, the Pioneer Land Grant University, and the Web site, “History of Michigan State University.”