U-M research projects contribute $4.77 billion to state, national economies

June 6, 2019

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan contributed $4.77 billion to the national economy through vendor contracts and subcontracts between 2002 and 2017, according to a new report.

More than 4,000 minority-owned, woman-owned and small businesses supplied goods and services to support the U-M research enterprise during that period.

“Research at the University of Michigan addresses important challenges and opportunities that impact our daily lives, and as a result of our ongoing investment in research, there is a positive ripple effect on the economy that helps drive global competitiveness and spur new jobs,” said Rebecca Cunningham, U-M interim vice president for research.

The report, produced by the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science at the U-M Institute for Social Research, also details the impact of U-M research spending on specific industries. For example, companies in the manufacturing sector received more than $127 million between 2002 and 2017 for their work in supporting the U-M research enterprise. And those companies paid their employees annual earnings that were more than 58% higher than the national average for the sector, although the IRIS report cannot show that U-M contracts drive wage increases.

Companies based in Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne and Ingham counties received the highest amount of research support from U-M, with Oakland County businesses generating $14 million in 2017 for their help in advancing U-M research, data shows.

Michigan-based companies received $43 million in research contracts from U-M in 2017, and beyond the state, the university has also developed strong partnerships with companies based in California, Texas and Illinois.

IRIS created the report by linking U-M administrative data with industry data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as workforce data from Bureau van Dijk’s Orbis dataset, which contains information on characteristics of businesses such as whether they are owned by minorities or women. Once the university administrative data is matched with the U.S. Census Bureau or Bureau van Dijk’s datasets, the resulting reports mask the identities of any individual organizations in the data.

IRIS is a national consortium of more than 30 research universities organized around an Institutional Review Board-approved data repository, housed at U-M’s Institute for Social Research.

“Linking data from multiple sources this way reveals important insights into the results of university research spending, not only for the national and regional economies, but for specific industries as well,” said IRIS executive director Jason Owen-Smith, U-M professor of sociology. “Other IRIS reports contain similar information on the career paths, earnings and outcomes for university employees and students. Through these data-driven reports, our goal is to better understand and explain, and ultimately improve the public value of higher education and research.”

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

Linked datasets are also available to researchers at IRIS institutions as part of the membership agreement. Nearly 100 researchers have accessed IRIS data through its virtual data enclave, and more than 30 published papers and three books have used the data.


Written by Dan Meisler


Jason Owen-Smith

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