Michigan university partner up for Michigan Corporate Relations Network
Six Michigan universities have partnered to create a university-business network that will assist small to medium-sized companies gain access to various university assets.
The Michigan Corporate Relations Network includes MSU, University of Michigan, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Western Michigan University`, Michigan Technological University and Wayne State University, and will officially launch in early 2012, said Jeff Mason, executive director of the University Research Corridor.
“The goal here is … to really better serve the business community and connect the critical university assets to help contribute towards the growth and productivity of the state’s economy,” Mason said.
The six universities were chosen to be included in the network because of their strong research history, he said.
“The vast majority of the significant research and patent activity (in Michigan) is really taking place in these six universities,” Mason said. “They accounted for 98 percent of all academic research done in Michigan in 2009.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will funnel about $1.8 million in funding into the project throughout the next two years to create “one-stop business relations offices” at each of the six universities to connect businesses with university assets in research and provide funding for internship programs, which many businesses of that size can not afford, Mason said.
“The sweet spot in terms of size of companies are companies in the small and medium size … (ones) that maybe don’t have as many resources as larger-sized companies in their ability to recruit talent or undertake research activities,” he said.
Finance junior Joe Fazzio said the new partnership should help graduates stand out in a competitive job market and also provide exposure for Michigan businesses.
“In order to get a job nowadays, you need something that sets yourself apart,” he said. “Getting internships, that’s one way to set yourself apart.”
Fazzio said he would “definitely” prefer to work for a small business because it’s more intimate, as opposed to a larger corporation.
“(If you are) starting your own business, having the resources here and the students here with the talent — it’s only going to help your business more,” he said. “I think it’s great for the small businesses and the economy as a whole.”
Charles Hasemann, executive director of MSU Business-CONNECT, said boosting the economy was the driving force behind the creation of the network.
Business-CONNECT is MSU’s business relations branch of the new network and has been doing similar work connecting businesses to university assets for more than a year, Hasemann said.
“When you’re a small business, you generally don’t have a (research and development) budget,” he said.
“We find ways to make it happen. … The good thing about this (network) is … now we’ve got some money from the state that will match the company’s money.”
Hasemann said the new partnership should make MSU more attractive for all students, including those outside the business field, with opportunities to work in real-world situations with companies.
“We’re going to have real opportunities for students to engage with companies,” he said. “That’s what this is all about, giving these companies a shot in the arm. Those companies will, in turn, be more successful and help the economy grow.”