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.”

Robert C. Kedzie, M.D., was one of MSU’s earliest researchers. He began teaching chemistry at what was then the State Agricultural College in 1863 and developed a research program that helped start the Michigan sugar beet industry, protect consumers from volatile kerosene, eliminates trade in arsenic-laden wallpaper, and encourage planting trees along state highways. He served as a state legislator and as chairman of the State Board of Public Health and was the father of Frank Kedzie, who served as president of MSU from 1915 to 1921.
Botany professor W. J. Beal established the first laboratory in the country devoted to the study and teaching of botany and was the first person to cross-fertilize corn to increase yields. The gardens that he established in 1873 for teaching and research are still in use. In 1879 he buried 20 bottles, each with 1,050 seeds from 21 species, instructing that one be dug up periodically to test the seeds. In 1999, 120 years into the world’s longest-running seed germination experiment, plant biologists Frank Telewski and Jan Zeevaart unearthed bottle number 15 and planted the seeds. Two species, moth mullein, and cheeses grew. Beal’s text, Grasses of North America, was the standard for many years. He also revolutionized teaching by reducing dependence on lectures and having students conduct experiments. He served on the faculty from 1870 to 1910.

In the early 1900s, Charles E. Marshall was the first in the state to produce hog cholera serum. Charles Edward Marshall Hall, constructed in 1902, was the first campus building built for bacteriology research and teaching. It is named for its designer, who served as chairman of bacteriology. Marshall Hall now houses the Department of Economics.
The first plant breeder hired by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, Dr. F. A. Spragg, released the first navy bean variety, Robust, in 1915. Forty varieties of beans in eight commercial classes were developed at MSU and released during the 20th century.
In 1920 the new Economics Department initiated research on rural taxation.
Dwight Ewing, a chemistry professor, discovered a practical method of chromium plating in the 1920s.

When Marie Dye joined the MSU faculty in 1922 after receiving the Ph.D. in nutrition from the University of Chicago, one of the first things she did was begin a research program in home economics using her experience in basal metabolism studies as a model. She became dean of the College of Home Economics in 1929. By the time she retired in 1957, graduate enrollment in the college had increased from 5 to 98.

In the 1930s, C.M. Harrison and H.C. Rather were the first in America to combine bromegrass and alfalfa into a pasture mixture. It is still the most popular pasture mixture.
Research in the 1930s by dairy industry pioneer G. Malcolm Trout showed the effects of homogenization on the chemical and physical properties of milk.

Forrest Huddleston achieved international acclaim for his research on brucellosis (undulant fever) in the 1930s and 1940s. One of his graduate students, Alfred Day Hershey (Ph.D. Chemistry, 1934), shared the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1969. Hershey’s discovery (he conducted the famous Waring blender experiment) in 1952 at Cold Spring Harbor in New York that DNA is the molecule of heredity revolutionized molecular biology. Hershey died on May 22, 1997.

Steven Dexter’s 1946 discovery of a way to maintain the optimal moisture content in corn for popping revolutionized the popcorn industry.

In 1948 the Public Policy Extension Education project (probably the first at a land-grant college) conducted a study of “Market Price Analysis and Economic Education for Agriculture” funded by the congressional Research and Marketing Act.

In the 1950s, kinesiology professors Henry Montoye and Wayne Van Huss set up a dummy and a machine that gyrated a football helmet so they could gauge the effects of impacts on ahead.
In the 1950s, S.K. Ries and B.A. Stout received the first patent on a harvester for once-over tomato harvesting.

In 1953 Warren A. Vincent initiated electronic data processing as a farm management research project involving mail-in farm records from 100 Ingham County farmers.

In the late 1960s chemistry professor Barnett Rosenberg and colleagues Loretta VanCamp and Thomas Krigas discovered that cancer and leukemia can be retarded and blocked by certain platinum compounds. From this research came cisplatin, one of the most successful cancer treatments.

Horticulturist C.E. Peterson developed the first hybrid pickling cucumber in 1960. Soon afterward, agricultural engineers invented the first mechanical harvester for pickling cucumbers.

In the 1960s, S.H. Wittwer and Wm. Robb was the first in America to demonstrate that carbon dioxide is a factor in the growth of greenhouse vegetables.

In the 1960s, MSU pioneered pest control monitoring, allowing farmers to secure satisfactory pest control while providing safer, high-quality food products.

In the early 1970s, Janet Wessel, kinesiology, received the first U.S. Department of Education grant ever issued for research on physical education for students with special needs. The curriculum she developed remains in use.

USDA poultry researchers, in cooperation with MAES scientists, developed the first cancer vaccine in 1970 for Marek’s disease.

Horticulturist Shigemi Honma developed the self-blanching cauliflower in the 1970s. The developing head wraps in leaves so it stays white.

In the 1980s, MSU agricultural engineers designed a sprayer that sandwiches a curtain of chemicals between two high-speed air streams, reducing the drift of chemicals into non-target areas.

In the 1980s, an MSU researcher discovered that secretions from the white-rot fungus could break down toxic waste into harmless chemicals.

In the 1980s, mechanical engineering professor Robert Hubbard developed the HANS head and neck support, which restrains the helmet and head relative to the shoulders and effectively reduces the head motions and neck tensions that injure race car drivers.

In 1987, astronomer Susan Simkin was part of the team that discovered the largest galaxy known at that time–1.3 million light-years in diameter.

The sand/manure separator developed in the 1990s allows farmers to separate sand (used for dairy cow bedding) from manure (used for fertilizer) without causing excess wear on farm machinery.

In the 1990s, MSU packaging engineer Paul Singh developed a new raspberry container that improves the quality of berries that reach the market.

In the 1990s, Stephen Boyd, MAES crop and soil sciences researcher, developed a method of treating contaminated groundwater using clay.

In the 1990s, chemical engineering professor Kris Berglund developed a sodium-free salt substitute that looks and tastes like real salt.