U-M-sponsored research projects add $5.9B to economy since ’02

February 09, 2021

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan research enterprise contributed $5.9 billion to the national economy over the past 18 years—$1.8 billion of which supported Michigan-based companies, according to a new report from the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science.

The latest IRIS report provides a geographic snapshot of vendors that supplied goods and services to support research and scholarship activity across the three U-M campuses.

Companies based in Washtenaw County, for example, received more than $1.2 billion through contracts with U-M researchers between 2002 and 2020. Vendors in Genesee County generated more than $18.9 million over the past 18 years for their role in supporting U-M research activity, while companies in Muskegon County netted $1.7 million.

“Research and scholarship led by the University of Michigan not only addresses society’s most wicked problems—it also plays a critical role in driving our national economy and strengthening our research pipeline,” said Rebecca Cunningham, U-M vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

IRIS, a national consortium of research universities based at the U-M Institute for Social Research and organized around an IRB-approved data repository, also measures how research grants support university employees.

Between 2002 and 2020, an average of more than 16,500 employees across U-M were supported by research grants each year, IRIS data shows. More than 31% of those research-funded employees were students and about 16% were faculty.

“Our findings illuminate the many different ways in which academic research affects the national economy and society as a whole,” said IRIS Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith, professor of sociology and executive director of the U-M Research Analysis and Data Integration Office. “U-M is an excellent illustration of the multifaceted impact research investments can have, including on economic and workforce development and the career paths of research-funded employees.”

Reports are available to IRIS members. Members submit their administrative research spending data to IRIS, which then links them to various other datasets to produce reports. No individual businesses, employees or students are identifiable in these reports.

More than 250 researchers have accessed IRIS data through its virtual data enclave, and dozens of published papers and three books have used the data.

Alex Piazza, Office of the Vice President for Research, [email protected]
Dan Meisler, IRIS, [email protected]