U of M to invest in its own startup companies

Oct 5, 2011

If you’re on faculty at the University of Michigan and you have an idea for a startup company…you’re in luck. If you can get outside funding, U of M will match that funding up to $500,000.

U of M President Mary Sue Coleman says "if you can convince a venture fund to invest in you, you just automatically get an investment from us. So we’re not picking winners and losers, and that’s what I like about the program."

President Coleman also unveiled a new $50 million initiative called the Third Century.

"The Third Century Initiative,"' Coleman says, "will support two essential components of a Michigan education: immersive learning and innovative approaches to grand challenges."

Coleman elaborated on what she means by a "grand challenge" in her annual fall address:

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death in American children and young adults. In the time we are here this morning, five people will lose their lives in crashes. More than 300 will be hurt.

It is a public health challenge that exceeds our national borders. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that, by 2020, vehicle crashes will be the third most serious threat to human health in the world.

Dr. Stewart Wang sees firsthand the human toll of car crashes. As a trauma surgeon and director of the U-M Burn Center, he treats the broken bones and internal injuries, and far too often delivers bad news to families.

Dr. Wang is making it his mission to reduce injuries and save lives. As founder of the International Center for Automotive Medicine, Dr. Wang and his researchers partner with the auto industry to design safer cars and trucks. They advise legislators on public policy. And they work alongside first responders on how best to treat crash victims.

With their research showing how bodies and vehicles respond in a collision, these faculty have made major contributions to treating injuries, and treating them quickly.

Specifically, research carried out by Dr. Wang and others has led the CDC to revise the nationally accepted protocol for treating patients at the scene.

The results have been dramatic. There has been an 11 percent increase in the accuracy of treating patients. And the annual savings in medical costs is $540 million – nearly half a billion dollars.

This is research turned into action, with very human benefits. I was hoping Dr. Wang could be with us today, but he is at a major conference, representing Michigan as the only university in the world with a center for automotive medicine.

The Third Century Initiative money will be spread out over five years and will help develop innovative ways to deal with global challenges like climate change, poverty and affordable health care.

You can read a full transcript of President Coleman's remarks.