Here’s some positive news from Michigan’s education sector. Michigan’s University Research Corridor, consisting of three universities – Michigan State, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University – contributed $17.5 billion to Michigan’s economy in 2015.

That’s up from $16.8 billion the previous year and $12.9 billion in 2007 That’s an increase of $700 million over the previous year, according to the 9th Annual Economic Impact & Benchmark Report released Tuesday.

The URC also ranked highly in the transfer of research and development, surpassing its five-year average for the number of patents issued, licensing and options activity, and invention disclosures, for the third straight year.

According to the report, for every dollar the state invested in the three URC universities, Michigan saw $22 in economic benefits, according to the report.

The URC continued their second place standing in the Innovation Power Ranking among the nation’s most respected innovation clusters for the third year in a row. For context, the Southern California cluster (UCLA, UC-San Diego and USC) ranked first, and the Northern California cluster (UC-San Francisco, UC-Berkeley and Stanford) ranked third.

University Research Corridor Michigan

The Innovation Power Ranking was developed by Anderson Economic Group, preparers of the annual report, and compares the URC’s performance to peer university clusters in Northern California, Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania. The ranking indexes defining factors of leading research universities – talent, R&D and technology commercialization, to arrive at the ranking metric. Since 2002, the three URC universities have cultivated 188 start-up companies, including 71 which have formed in the past five years.

The Michigan URC also ranked first in the talent composite score, a measurement of total number of degrees conferred and total number of high-tech degrees. The URC conferred 34,141 degrees including 2,332 medical degrees, the highest number of advanced degrees in the medicine and biological science fields of any peer university innovation cluster.

“Our three universities take research out of the lab and into the market, keeping jobs and investment dollars here in our backyard,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson in a statement. “Not only is world class research taking place within the walls of our institutions, the URC’s entrepreneurial graduates are extending that reach to drive business results in the state.”

The report also includes a breakdown of the URC’s economic impact in 10 regions statewide, including the effect of the additional money URC alumni living in Michigan earn because of their university degrees. As of summer 2015, the URC universities had more than 1.2 million alums worldwide. The 629,000 alums living in Michigan account for more than 9 percent of the state’s population over age 24.

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