April 'On the Road' with Stephen Rapundalo
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Stephen Rapundalo, PhD
President and CEO, MichBio
It’s been some time since the last biolink newsletter. With the departure of our Director of Marketing & Communications in early March, it was everything that David McGuire and I could do to simply to keep up with daily affairs, essential communications, membership support, building the new website, and recruiting a new staff person. But here we are back in the saddle and at full staff strength (meet Katie our new Director in this issue).
This report begins late February with my participation in the 2014 AdvaMed Legislative Fly-In. A total of twenty-two state medtech association directors took on Capitol Hill and visited our respective Congressional delegations. In addition, I led a meeting (in my capacity as Chair of AdvaMed’s State Medical Technology Alliance) with the State DC Directors. It was a real treat to be joined by Gene Parunak, Managing Director of In2Being, a medical device design and development firm based in Saline. Nothing resonates better with an elected official than a constituent who can speak of firsthand experience relative to the issues. For a first-timer, Gene availed himself extremely well and provided an articulate narrative during our meetings (read about his experience in this issue of biolink).
The first week of March found me paying a visit to Cayman Chemical to meet with an old Parke-Davis colleague, Jim Mobley, now Director of Drug Discovery at the south side Ann Arbor firm. The company, a longtime manufacturer of assay kits and reagents, is now engaged in drug discovery, both in progressing internal therapeutic candidates, as well as providing custom services for clients. Later that week I attended Oakland County’s Medical Main Street annual Board meeting where Royal Oak Medical Devices was a featured corporate guest.
The Business Leaders for Michigan Leadership Summit in Lansing kicked off the second week of March. Executives from across the state gathered to hear about the pace of economic turnaround in Michigan. A panel discussion about the state’s life sciences industry featured Kevin McLeod of the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator, Roger Newton, CEO of Esperion Therapeutics, and moderator Jan Garfinkle of Arboretum Ventures. The following week I caught up with David Peralta, CEO of NanoBio who updated me on the company’s activities and growth. Then, I met with the Director of the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority from their Chicago-based Consulate office. We discussed possible opportunities for business interactions between Michigan and Malaysian medtech companies.
At the end of March, I paid a visit to Linares Medical Devices in Auburn Hills. Miguel Linares, the founder and principal, is an absolutely brilliant man with over 150 inventions to his name, as well as being a phenomenal painter and sculptor. His expertise in plastic-metal alloys and their application to medical devices is absolutely unparalleled. Then I traveled about ¼ mile down the road to meet with Royal Oak Medical Devices (a division of Royal Oak Industries) who manufactures high quality U.S. made orthopedic spinal implants and instruments under a reduced pricing business model.
Two Arizona companies visited me independently and within days of each other during the first week of April. Both were interested in business opportunities here in Michigan including setting of operations.
The next week found me back in Washington, DC to participate in the annual BIO Legislative Fly-In. Harold Chase, a former staffer for Sen. Carl Levin and now government affairs director for NSF International, and Peter Pellerito, a senior consultant for BIO, joined me for my Michigan Congressional delegation office visits.
After my last Capitol Hill meeting, I went straight across town to attend the annual PhRMA meeting. The event afforded me the opportunity to meet executives from the major pharmaceutical companies—Ian Read (Pfizer), Christopher Viehbacher (Sanofi), John Lechleiter (Lilly), Robert Hugin (Celgene), Deirdre Connelly (GSK), and David Brennan (former CEO, AstraZeneca). In addition, the meeting featured a host of federal and state officials—Dr. Margaret Hamburg (FDA Commissioner), Rep. Fred Upton (Chair, House Energy & Commerce Committee), Rep. Eric Cantor (House Majority Leader), and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (Commonwealth of Virginia), and a poignant presentation by Suleika Jaouad, the Emmy Award-winning author of the New York Times Series "Life Interrupted."
Returning to Michigan, we hosted Scott Whitman, Vice President of JPMorgan Healthcare Investment Banking, who conducted fourteen, pre-screened 1:1 meetings with emerging medical device and health IT companies. I met Scott at this year’s JPMorgan Healthcare Conference and he had expressed an interest in learning about new technologies and investment opportunities that Michigan’s bio-industry could offer. On the heels of the JPMorgan visit, MichBio kicked off the second season of the CEO Leaders Club and featured Ron Cohen, MD, founder and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics (see the recap below). Then, I headed down to Akron to visit the Austen BioInnovation Institute on Friday morning to learn about their commercialization business model, services and facility. That afternoon, I drove up to Case Western Reserve University and met with Joe Peter, Network Manager for the Ohio Clinical Trials Collaborative, who described how a number of public and private stakeholders have teamed up to grow their state’s already significant sponsored trials sector.
Last week I traveled to Flint for ongoing meetings with Genesys Health regarding their plans to develop a healthcare-life sciences cluster on their 500+ acre campus. A few days later, I attended the annual BME & Life Sciences Student Poster Presentation at Lawrence Technological University in my capacity as an Advisory Board member. There were some remarkable research projects—everything from drug delivery to studying lipid metabolism in cardiac cells—and in one instance a unanimous call by the reviewers for the student research group to immediately file a provisional patent for their medical device,
As always, let us know how we’re doing or what we can do better to assist you and your organization. And stay tuned as we announce our new website launch!