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Big Mich. schools lead in degrees, lag in startups

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2014 at 10:43 am •  Published: January 21, 2014

DETROIT (AP) — An alliance of Michigan's three largest universities awards more degrees than any other such network, but it lags rivals in the prized mission of transferring technology out of the classroom and into commercial ventures, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report found the University Research Corridor tops the list of eight university networks nationwide for enrollment and the number of degrees awarded, particularly in high technology. But the alliance, which consists of University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, placed next to last in technology transfer, and last in launching startups over a five-year period that ended with fiscal year 2012.

The other groups represent major universities in Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and northern and southern California. Officials say the report helps show how Michigan's universities stack up against big players such as Stanford, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and become more attractive for top students and faculty as well as public and private investment.

The report also underscores a new challenge for big universities: Serve as economic, as well as academic drivers for their regions and states.

"Annual reports really help us benchmark," University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman told The Associated Press. "It's easy to benchmark yourself against yourself, so we look at areas of the nation that have shown to be very highly innovative and good places for startup businesses."

The report, commissioned by the URC and written for the past seven years by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group, ranks Michigan's alliance second among university groups in what the consulting firm dubbed an Innovation Power Ranking that includes technology transfer, talent and research. The report said the last two areas have greater weight in the ranking because they more closely align with universities' core mission, but commercialization and becoming an economic development engine are becoming more emphasized.

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