wjr business beat

WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: University of Michigan Launches Record Number of Startups and Inventions (Episode 114)

To get this week off to a roaring start, Jeff shares exciting news: the University of Michigan has announced a record launch of 31 startups in fiscal year 2020, a 40 percent increase during a period that included the pandemic and temporarily shuttered labs.

In addition to the record number of startups launched, U of M researchers reported a rise in new inventions: a record 522 for the 2020 fiscal year, up from last year’s 502.

Tune in to this morning’s WJR Business Beat for more details:


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“The launch of 31 new startup companies is a testament to the strength and resiliency of the university’s growing innovation ecosystem. The record-breaking growth and startup formation is important in 2020 because these new companies will be meaningful contributors to the growth and diversification of our state’s economy as we work to rebound from the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

– Kelly Sexton, U of M Associate Vice President for Research Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships, in a press release

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WJR Business Beat Transcript

Good morning, Paul.

To get this week off to a roaring start, the University of Michigan has announced a record launch of 31 startups in fiscal 2020, a 40 percent increase during a period that included the pandemic and temporary shuttered labs.

U of M inventors went to market with a wide range of discoveries, including those from a company using machine learning predictive modeling to help cities like Flint replace their lead-tainted water pipes to another that pivoted from prostate cancer screening to rapid COVID-19 testing during a global health crisis.

In addition to the record number of startups launched, U of M researchers reported a rise in new inventions: a record 522 for the 2020 fiscal year, up from last year’s 502.

U of M Tech Transfer also reported it signed a record 268 licensed deals and option agreements with companies seeking to commercialize the discoveries of university researchers in the past fiscal year, up 232 in fiscal year 2019.

Kelly Sexton, U of M Associate Vice President for Research Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships, had this to say:

“The launch of 31 new startup companies is a testament to the strength and resiliency of the university’s growing innovation ecosystem. The record-breaking growth and startup formation is important in 2020 because these new companies will be meaningful contributors to the growth and diversification of our state’s economy as we work to rebound from the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Rebecca Cunningham, U of M Vice President for Research and Professor of Emergency Medicine had this to say:

“As the nation’s leading public research university, we have an obligation to ensure that our research discoveries are translated from the lab to the marketplace in ways that positively benefit society.”

So, what does all this mean to this great university?

It means a return on their investment, both financially, as well as culturally. The 2020 roster of startups raised $237 million during the year. Generated revenues from licensing totaling 14.5 million, and there were four exit events, as well, all of which supports and fuels further research and innovation at this great university. And that, in turn, can result in additional startups being born from research activity happening at the university.

Now, this is the way you get it done! Congratulations to the University of Michigan, and go blue.

I’m Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of StartupNation.com, and that’s today’s Business Beat on the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR.

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