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May 29, 2014

Research U’s vital to Michigan’s ‘Blue Economy’

Michigan State University and its University Research Corridor partners protect Michigan’s precious water resources and enhance its “blue economy” through hundreds of millions of dollars in research and service, a new report shows.

The URC universities – MSU, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University – landed nearly $300 million in funding for water-related research and outreach from 2009 to 2013. The 2,100 awards led to innovations in a wide variety of areas, ranging from invasive species to monitoring water quality and finding ways to optimize water use in agriculture, according to “Innovating for the Blue Economy,” a report released today at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

Not only do the three universities help protect water resources locally as well as globally, but each year together produce more than 3,400 graduates prepared to address water issues through careers in business, academia and government. Nearly 40 percent of those graduates earn advanced degrees, according to the report. The three universities offer 68 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in water-related areas such as engineering, agriculture, public health, natural resources and business.

“Water isn’t just Michigan’s defining characteristic but the foundation of life on Earth,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Our three universities make significant commitments to support water-related research and programs. These not only support Michigan’s economy and quality of life, but position the state as a knowledge wellspring for the world’s most precious natural resource.”

The report was prepared by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group, which has studied the URC’s impact in the auto, information technology, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and alternative energy sectors in previous years.

“One in five Michigan jobs is tied to having good and plentiful water,” said AEG founder and CEO Patrick Anderson. “It is an important economic driver in Michigan, and extends to Great Lakes shipping, advanced manufacturing, agriculture and fishing, and over 80 other industry subsectors where Michigan workers are employed today.”

Read the URC Blue Economy news release here.