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Speaking to a crowd of more than 180 at the MichBio Annual Meeting in Ypsilanti on Wednesday night,
executive director, Stephen Rapundalo, Ph.D., said, "Perhaps the single most significant development this year for our organization and for the life sciences industry in our state was the award to MichBio of the contract to coordinate Michigan's Life Sciences Pipeline. The Pipeline is an integrated commercialization superhighway that will link key resources that are vital to fast, profitable product development." Through the project, he added, pathways will be developed for the various life science segments, with the goal of moving companies along the development continuum
rapidly through education, coaching, matchmaking, funding sources, and other needed services. The pharmaceutical and medical device pathways will be laid out by the end of this year.
"The result of the Pipeline will be a universe where the sharing of
knowledge helps existing companies expand faster, creates an environment
for new companies to blossom, and entices companies outside of Michigan to
locate here," Rapundalo said.
Rapundalo noted that the unthinkable occurred when Pfizer announced in
January that it would close its Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo facilities by 2008,
but that the rapid response and concerted efforts of various groups to
retain a strong life sciences talent pool in Michigan and to create new
business venture opportunities has been impressive. In particular, he cited
MichBio's Talent Bank Plus online talent search tool which was unveiled
last week for the exclusive use of its members in locating skilled
professionals for Michigan-based jobs.
He noted that despite the Pfizer announcement, "we shouldn't lose sight
of the many success stories in the life sciences around the state in recent
-- Kalexsyn, a young and dynamic contract research firm from Kalamazoo who
is graduating from the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, and just
broke ground for their new facility.
-- PharmOptima, also an Innovation Center tenant, graduating and moving
its operations into a new 10,000 square foot facility in the Portage
Commerce Park. The company's growth and success, including a
collaborative research deal with Pfizer, has earned them the
distinction as one of Michigan's 50 Companies to Watch.
-- OtoMedicine, a start-up headed by a former Pfizer senior researcher,
just last week was one of the first three firms in the state to be
awarded funding from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund administered by
Ann Arbor SPARK and the other SmartZones.
-- Beaumont Hospital, announced that GE Healthcare has entered into
product development partnership with their innovative Technology
Usability Center. Beaumont engineers and clinical staff will assist
the manufacturer towards improving the safety and ease of use of GE's
-- Molecular Innovations, a manufacturer and supplier of novel molecular
biology products, protein purification, and other services, broke
ground last fall for their new Livonia facility with Governor Granholm
-- NanoBio, an Ann Arbor-based biopharmaceutical company commercializing
its patented biologic nanotechnology delivery systems, that
successfully raised $30 million in private equity financing, and
received an approximate $2.3 million award from the 21st Century Jobs
Rapundalo noted that MichBio has renewed its commitment to providing
value to its membership. "We have been assessing our operations, products
and services earnestly with the clear goal of providing better value and
establishing ourselves as a visible and impactful resource," he said. In
addition to regular weekly, monthly e-newsletters, an improved website, and
its Talent Bank Plus program, MichBio has revitalized its Preferred
Provider Program to enable more service providers to offer its members
discounted laboratory supplies, business and professional services, office
supplies, furniture, etc. It also participates with Pfizer, Ann Arbor SPARK
and Michigan's Smart Zones in the Michigan Innovation Equipment Depot,
which facilitates the growth of Michigan life sciences companies with
access to previously used laboratory equipment.
In the area of legislative advocacy, Rapundalo said MichBio is taking a
more visible role in crafting a leadership position on life science
matters. "We've been working to build strategic relationships with key
legislative leaders and the Governor's office and are viewed as a valued
resource to them.
"In partnership with other stakeholders, MichBio continues to be
strongly opposed to the repeal of product liability law reform in the
belief that such a measure would have a direct negative impact on the
growth of the Michigan bioeconomy."
Rapundalo also announced that the MichBio Expo, the state's premier
life sciences event, would be held next October 16-17 in Lansing, and will
include expert panels from across the industry, a Launchpad business plan
competition, exclusive business development meetings with national
companies, exhibits featuring top life science companies and service
providers. Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of BIO, has
been invited as keynote speaker.
The MichBio board recently voted to increase the number of directors by
two to 15 to expand its representation from around the state. During the
Annual Meeting, MichBio members elected three new board directors and re-
elected two others, all to three-year terms, during the meeting. Elected to
the Board were David Felten, M.D., Ph.D., research vice president and
Research Institute medical director, Beaumont Hospitals (Royal Oak);
Ricardo (Richard) Fuentes Jr,, global life science director, Dow Venture
Capital (Midland); and David Zimmermann, chief executive officer, Kalexsyn,
Inc. (Kalamazoo). Re- elected were Michael Kurek, Ph.D., principal
consultant, Biotechnology Business Consultants (Ann Arbor), and Karen
Studer-Rabeler, associate director, new business development, University of
Michigan Office of Technology Transfer (Ann Arbor). Two directors retired
from the Board. They are Stephen Goldner, J.D., chief executive officer,
Regulatory Affairs Associates, LLC (W. Bloomfield), and Jeffery Mason,
senior vice president, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (Lansing).
Stephen P. MacMillan, president and chief executive officer of
Kalamazoo- based Stryker Corporations gave the keynote address at the
meeting. MacMillan recapped Stryker growth from a small start-up company in
western Michigan to one of the worldwide leaders in the medical device
industry. He also provided an overview of the dynamic, $225 billion medical
devices market and detailed how Michigan companies can be participate in
MichBio is a statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to driving
the growth of the life sciences industry in Michigan. The association
serves a diverse membership, including new and established life sciences
companies, academic and research institutions, as well as service providers
and related organizations throughout the state. It provides networking and
educational events, offers a web portal to industry-specific state and
national information, addresses public policy, and is focusing on the human
resource, funding and infrastructure issues affecting Michigan's
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