What the heck is an MOU, anyway?

Susan Proctor

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Government is full of great initialisms and acronyms. One of our favorites is the MoU, also known as a “Memorandum of Understanding.” Susan Proctor from our automotive office sat down with delegates from the UK, who we recently signed an MOU with.


What do you do at the MEDC?

The Automotive Office is a three-person team housed within the Business Development Unit at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). We serve as subject matter experts to the team and support the continued growth of innovative technologies, talent and infrastructure to ensure that Michigan is at the center of the automotive universe now and in the future. Kevin Kerrigan leads the team and serves as the senior advisor to the Governor on automotive initiatives.

The auto team’s efforts were central in securing MEDC support of the creation of strategic automotive assets including Mcity, the American Center for Mobility, the University of Michigan Battery Lab, the Michigan Design Council and the Institute for Advanced Composite Material Innovation (IACMI) and Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT). Co-located in Detroit, IACMI and LIFT support the development of lightweight composite material and lightweight metal technologies for automotive and other industrial applications.

At the Governor’s request, the team has recently focused on international collaboration with several connected and automated (CAV) testing facilities and environments across the globe. The goal is to work toward harmonizing policy, regulations and standards in the testing and deployment process to accelerate the adoption of technologies and save lives. To this end, the team has led international symposia at the ITS World Congress in Montreal in 2017 and Copenhagen in 2018 and plans to convene a third at the ITS World Congress in Singapore in 2019.


What is an MOU and what is the purpose of signing one?

An MoU is an initialism for Memorandum of Understanding agreement.  The MEDC has signed many, mostly ceremonial such documents with various government entities in the past.  The agreements are typically broad in their scope and are often executed to formalize an already beneficial, collaborative relationship between the respective parties.

 Since April 2018, the state of Michigan, has executed of five MoUs with Australia, China, the Netherlands, the Austrian State of Styria and the UK to further bilateral cooperative opportunities in the automotive and mobility space.


What makes the MOU with the UK special or different?

The MoU with the UK and other recently executed MoUs are different primarily because there are dedicated resources behind them ensuring sustainable execution.  The auto office has established a working group within the MEDC and with our UK counterparts to achieve measurable results. The UK agreement is also unique because it is a state-to-country MoU unlike many others that are typically struck between equal governmental entities.  The Governor signed the MoU at the Palace of Westminister in London with the Minister of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. This level of global engagement speaks to Michigan’s continued leadership in automotive and galvanized an already beneficial relationship with a major global economic powerhouse.

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