Business Engagement Center

For the last five years, the BEC has called NCRC home for their offices, staff, and corporate partnership meetings. As Executive Director Stella Wixom shares, “NCRC allows us the space and flexibility to meet the needs of our corporate partners and be close to our research colleagues. We began in another location early in our history, but we found our home at NCRC.”

In fact, co-location extends to BEC’s corporate partners as well. One of its close industry collaborators also resides at NCRC. DENSO’s collaborative space in Building 300 provides space, equipment and other resources where students, faculty, and DENSO researchers can work together. Umesh Patel, Senior Director at the BEC, works closely with DENSO, and explains, “DENSO’s lab at NCRC has been a key success factor in facilitating new student projects, internships, and new faculty research projects. Since locating at NCRC, DENSO has established new collaborations with Michigan Medicine, College of Engineering, and U-M Transportation Research Institute.”

Wixom adds, “Our mission is to serve as the front door connecting faculty and students with companies for mutually beneficial partnerships, exceptional experiences and opportunities to grow industry engagement at U-M. Our relationships with companies like Ford Motor Company, Procter and Gamble, and Google are enriched by the facility at the NCRC.”

Senior Director Susan Shields concurs: “Being at NCRC allows us to co-locate with U-M Tech Transfer, facilitating communications for the evolving relationships of our companies as their research results become of greater importance. The space at NCRC helps us have a coordinated team approach.”

Facts and Figures

  • Staff: 14
  • Company relationships: 1200+
  • 2016 Corporate Philanthropy: $55 million
  • 2016 Corporate Research Expenditures: $85 million
  • 2016 Corporate Research Awards: $144 million
  • Industry visits last year, many at NCRC: 835
  • Geese living outside BEC windows: 4

In Their Own Words

“While NCRC facilitates much of our business relationships, it also greatly enhances our work lives. From the open, expansive buildings to the cafeteria and gym to the accessible parking and location, NCRC has been a great place to work every day,” says Charmaye Wiley of the BEC administrative staff. Favorite aspects of working at NCRC for BEC staff also include the beautiful campus-like environment, art installations throughout the buildings, and numerous great meeting rooms.

The BEC facilitates corporate engagement across all units and departments at U-M, from small faculty-specific research endeavors to large university-wide research initiatives, such as Mcity and the Exercise and Sport Science Initiative (ESSI). The relationship managers at the BEC work with industry partners to identify areas for research collaboration and philanthropic support.

The 10th Anniversary marks a significant milestone for the BEC. Considered a groundbreaking venture, the BEC has become the gold standard for facilitating industry engagement in higher education and is known globally for its organization and expertise.

For more information about the BEC, please visit

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