The University of Michigan (U-M) is partnering with the Detroit Regional Chamber on a new strategic initiative to foster innovation, technological advancement, and economic growth in a new innovation corridor stretching from Ann Arbor to Detroit.

“Our state and region must capitalize on recent momentum to secure our competitive position in the 21st century,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Creating an environment of technology-forward companies and talent is a priority and can only be delivered through collaboration and a strong strategic plan. The chamber is excited to take the first step in this work with the University of Michigan.”

The Innovate Michigan initiative aims to leverage the strength of both organizations. According to a press release, the Detroit Regional Chamber – which has spent more than a century promoting economic prosperity – and U-M – the region’s largest producer of talent through its students, faculty, and research – will pool their resources and convene other organizations and business to collaborate in the development of an Ann Arbor-to-Detroit innovation corridor.

“With the work we are already doing, and the work we aspire to do in the near future, U-M will have invested nearly $1 billion dollars, over a 10-year period, into efforts and initiatives aimed at bolstering innovation, opportunity, and economic growth in the region,” said U-M President Santa J. Ono. “But we believe that even greater connection and collaboration are crucial for the success of an Ann Arbor-to-Detroit innovation corridor. This is the ethos and profound opportunity of Innovate Michigan.”

The organizations explained that the state is struggling to compete with national and global peers in attracting high-tech entrepreneurs and funding, despite top-tier higher education institutions and an engaged business community. Both organizations believe that the addition of an innovation corridor will help change the tide of attracting talent.

Despite Michigan’s abundant resources — including top-tier higher education institutions, an engaged business community, and a high quality of life — the region struggles to compete with national and global peers in attracting high-tech entrepreneurs and funding. Therefore, the organizations emphasized the need for a collective effort.

“Sandy and I are already in the process of recruiting additional co-chairs, partners, businesses, institutions of higher education, business associations, and industry leaders to form a preliminary convening committee,” Ono said.

Once formed, the committee will be charged with developing an overarching strategy, benchmarking metrics, and reviewing best practices from other successful “innovation corridors” around the world, as well as setting achievable goals and a realistic timeline for the initiative.

Preliminary goals for Innovate Michigan include:

  • Increasing STEM graduates – Boosting the number of science, technology, engineering, and math graduates at all levels to equip students with skills for today’s tech-driven world.
  • Enhancing retention rates – Implementing strategies to retain top talent from Michigan universities, ensuring the state’s skilled graduates contribute to the local economy.
  • Securing funding for startups – Attracting higher levels of funding for startups and developing companies in the technology space.
  • Attracting and retaining businesses – Ensuring the attraction and retention of medium and large businesses to connect technology and talent to job opportunities.
  • Building an innovation ecosystem – Developing a robust ecosystem connecting innovators with established companies, other innovators, and technical support.
  • Supporting public policy – Advocating for public policies that support the goals of the Ann Arbor-to-Detroit innovation corridor and benefit the entire state of Michigan.
Read More About
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs