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News and Press: MichBio News

June 'On the Road' with Stephen Rapundalo

Wednesday, June 18, 2014   (0 Comments)
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 Stephen Rapundalo

The last few weeks have flown by quickly. After Memorial Day, I met with representatives from Wayne State University (WSU) to begin planning for the 2014 MichBio Expo & Conference. The 10th annual event is set for September 30-October 1 at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. We’re grateful for the WSU partnership and are looking to develop an exciting program.

May ended with my attendance at the Medical MEMS & Sensors Conference held in Dearborn, an event that MichBio was a promoting partner. The meeting brought experts from around the country and even overseas. The group is in a niche marketplace, though one that is rapidly growing given the increasing focus in mobile health and point-of-care diagnostics. Attendees were predominantly highly technical in backgrounds, but the presentations were largely focused at higher levels on topics like the changing healthcare, IP/patent, regulatory, and reimbursement landscapes. Others spoke to new trending technologies. MichBio members DeNovo Sciences, Sentio, and University of Michigan presented. All in all, it was a very interesting meeting and a subject area I had little knowledge about, so it was a great opportunity to learn and network. To top it off, I was even able to connect one of our medtech development firms with a Cincinnati company for possible contract work.

Upon leaving the MEMS Conference I traveled down the road to Detroit and met with Acting Director Art Czabaniuk of the FDA’s District Office. We discussed a number of matters including how to enhance mutual engagement in regulatory education—look for more details soon.

June began with another one of my regular meetings at Genesys Health who is trying to develop a life sciences cluster concept for their Grand Blanc campus. While in the area, I paid a visit to Diplomat, the country’s largest independent specialty pharmacy, and had a nice conversation with CEO Phil Hagerman on a variety of matters. The growth at their Flint headquarters (the former GM Technical Research facility) has been phenomenal which has had major economic impact locally as well as for Michigan.

The 2nd annual MichBio-hosted Biosciences Capitol Day took place on June 3 in the State Capitol. The show-and-tell event was a great way to demonstrate to legislators the economic impact and geographic diversity of the state’s bio-industry. In addition to the aforementioned Diplomat, Capitol Day presenters included Ash Stevens, BD Accuri, Brio Device, Cayman Chemical, DeNovo Sciences, ENT BiotechFirst Sense Medical, Impact Analytical, MedBio, Neogen, and Spartan Innovations. There was good legislator turnout, especially for the participating companies, despite the hectic end-of-session political proceedings. Thanks to all presenters for their time and efforts—the event was well-received based on preliminary comments from legislators and staff.

The very next day, MichBio was back in the Capitol rotunda participating in the 2nd Michigan Clinical Trials Awareness Day. We joined about fifteen other organizations including members like Beaumont Health System, Borgess Health, Genesys Health, Henry Ford Health, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Quest Research Institute, and Wayne State University. The event began with a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda at 10 a.m. Speaking at the press conference were host Rep. Gail Haines (R-Waterford; Chair, House Health Policy Committee and Co-Chair, Biosciences Legislative Caucus); Gerold Bepler, MD, PhD, President and CEO, Karmanos Cancer Institute; David Haines, MD, FACC, Director of the Heart Rhythm Center, Electrophysiology Services, Beaumont Hospital; and Andrea Amalfitano, DO, PhD, Director, Clinical Trials & Translational Sciences Institute, Michigan State University. The press conference was well attended by media, including several cameras from TV stations. The Awareness Day showcased the great clinical trials industry that resides in Michigan and the impact it is having on patients and economy. The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Association (PhRMA) helped sponsor the event. A summary video documenting Clinical Trials Day was compiled.

Then it was a quick trip back to Ann Arbor in time to moderate the last BioArbor event of the season. That night’s topic was “Virtual Reality: Building Real Life Science Value with Virtual Teams” and featured Charles Bisgaier, PhD of Michigan Life Ventures, John Freshley, CEO of ONL Therapeutics, and Kevin McLeod, Executive Director of the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator and CEO, Soccoro Medical. It was a very engaging discussion and panelists touched on several key issues in running virtual companies including building culture, coordinating operations, managing capital efficiently, and others. BioArbor will be back in September with its formal program—but will co-host a couple of U-M events during the summer—stay tuned for details about both.

On June 5, I was back in Detroit to attend the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0 Open House at the historic Guardian Building. What a view from the 24th floor overlooking the Detroit River and a spectacular way to kick off this new capital investment endeavor. On Friday I met up with Gene Parunak, Managing Director of In2Being, a medical device design and development firm based in Saline. Gene and I discussed the state’s medical device sector, challenges facing startups in that space and what MichBio could offer in support.

Last week saw me co-chair the last MUCI-MIIE (Michigan University Commercialization Initiative – Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) Life Sciences peer-review of applications for funding from university-based entrepreneurs. Future support of this kind will now likely be developed through the MI Pre-Seed Fund 2.0—details on that to be worked out in the coming months.

Finally, David McGuire, MichBio’s Director of Membership, and I met with the Michigan Life Sciences Council (MLSC), a new provider collective in SE Michigan offering professional support services to start-up ventures. MichBio and MLSC are exploring opportunities on how best to leverage each other’s capabilities and capacities.

So that catches us up on the latest happenings as summer kicks off. Don’t forget to save the date for the 2014 MichBio Expo & Conference on September 30-October 1 at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. 

As always, let us know how we’re doing or what we can do better to assist you and your organization.

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