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6 Michigan Universities Band To Connect Researchers with Business

A consortium of six universities in Michigan has introduced a search portal to be used by businesses seeking specialized research expertise among the institutions' faculty and staff. A project of the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN), the "Expertise and Resource Portal," as it's called, is built on Elsevier's SciVal Experts, a tool that allows users to identify researchers with specific areas of specialization for the purpose of collaboration.

The network is designed to create partnerships to connect Michigan companies with university assets in order to help grow the state's economy. The search portal usage won't be limited to the state, as organizers said they expect to generate business from around the world.

The database behind the portal will be maintained by the network, which also encompasses the University Research Corridor, an alliance among three of the institutions. Each participating university will also provide outreach services to connect the experts within their specific schools with the inquiring business. Contact is promised within five days of a business' search and inquiry.

Besides accessing the database through the Web portal, participating institutions will also make a widget available on their Web sites, through which the same kind of search can take place.

Searches can be based on a concept, a researcher's name, or a published abstract.

The initial four universities involved in the Network are:

Shortly, the resources from two other institutions will also be added:

The current collection represents 6,677 researchers, 294,289 publications, 31,545 awarded grants, and 490 patents, according to information posted on the Portal Web site. Once faculty and facilities from the latter two schools are added into the database, it will represent "99 percent of all research and patent activity at Michigan universities," according to the organizers.

"Using the portal can save companies valuable time in their efforts to tap the extensive expertise available at Michigan's top research universities," said Charley Hasemann, executive director of Michigan State U's Business-CONNECT office. "These six MCRN universities provide an incredible amount of university-to-business resources."

"By using this portal, companies can get assistance with advancing a new product or process, or in finding a solution to a particular challenge — all without having to guess at which researcher or facility is the best one to contact," added Daryl Weinert, associate vice president at U Michigan's Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. "We know companies need timely answers to remain competitive, and we can make sure they are connected to the right university resources quickly."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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