August 'On the Road' with Stephen Rapundalo
Monday, August 31, 2015
It’s been a little more than a month since the last update. While the time-span has been longer than normal, it wasn’t due to expanded travels. Nonetheless, mid-summer has been busier than in past years as we continue our statewide strategic planning efforts and plan for several events this fall.
I’ve been working diligently with Michael Kruczek at DCG to pull together all the data gathered as part of the Michigan Bio-Industry Strategic Roadmap 2015 initiative. We’ve begun to distill the information into identifiable “strengths”, “opportunities” and “actions.” The outcomes are being assigned across functional (innovation, business climate, industry growth, access to capital, and education/talent), sector (ag/food/industrial, medical devices/equipment, pharma/biotech, research/testing, and bioscience distribution/logistics) and market (clinical trials, biobanking, manufacturing suppliers, contract research/manufacturing organizations, and bioscience support services) areas. The Roadmap steering committee was re-engaged last week to review our initial compilation and subsequent revisions. We’ll take the next few weeks to refine it all, and then begin to build the actual plan and report. The Roadmap work product will be unveiled at the first-ever Michigan Bio-Industry Growth Summit set for the afternoon of Tuesday, December 8 in Lansing - SAVE THE DATE!
I did manage to squeeze in some visits this past month. David McGuire and I met up with a few of the companies domiciled at the Michigan Life Sciences Innovation Center (MSLIC) – DeNovo Sciences, Vinazine, miLead Consulting, Biocrede, and Stonebridge Coatings Laboratory.
Last week I stopped in to catch up with Dan Ross at TransPharm Preclinical Solutions. The TransPharm team conducts efficacy testing on rodents for infectious-disease research exclusively. It’s the only such CRO in the world. Transpharm offers numerous types of studies for testing antimicrobials, antivirals, antifungals, antiparasitics, along with newer therapies using antibodies. It is a one-stop shop for pharmaceutical companies looking for translational pharmacology studies and TransPharm’s clients range from the smallest start-up ventures to the largest of biopharma organizations.
The next day I met with Dr. Margot LaPointe, Vice President of Research at Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) to catch up on activities at that institution. HFHS has conducted research activities since 1915, and currently focuses in six areas: cardiovascular and renal (e.g. hypertension and heart failure), neurosciences (e.g. stroke, traumatic brain injury and brain tumors), bone and joints (e.g. osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and joint motion), cancer (e.g. prostate, breast, head and neck cancers) immunology (e.g. autoimmune diseases), and population health and health care. Investigators conduct both basic, translational and clinical research with grant support from NIH and other funding organizations, as well as from biopharma and medical technology companies.
Then it was off to meet with Kenneth Chapa at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. Ken most recently hailed from Mesa, Arizona where he worked closely with our counterpart, AZBio, and other stakeholders in developing a life science cluster for the region. He brings a keen sense and understanding for the bio-industry and it was nice to see that Detroit is thinking beyond its traditional automotive focus when it comes to growing a future economy.
Barely back from Detroit, David McGuire and I skipped over to the Arbor Brewing Company’s Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti. Yes, the beer was good, but the real reason we were there was to learn more about the brewing process and their operational needs for lab supplies. Microbreweries more and more are setting up laboratories as part of their facilities to conduct quality control, develop new fermentation and flavoring protocols, and ensure stable products. Believe it or not, many of them around the country are beginning to join bioscience associations like MichBio, not the least of which to gain access to group purchasing programs that include vendors like VWR, Linde industrial gases, and others relevant to their operations.
In amongst all the other work going on, MichBio submitted a proposal in response to RFP 136794 – Support for Michigan’s Entrepreneurial Biotech Community - issued by the Michigan Strategic Fund through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The MSF Board seeks to allocate $2.75 million over three years to a non-profit organization/Michigan university to support the statewide biosciences community. Most importantly, the successful awardee would assume ownership and management of the Michigan Life Sciences Innovation Center, develop a Medical Devices Consortium, as well as provide entrepreneurial support services and programs. No less than 20 requirements had to be addressed by applicants. The MichBio Board of Directors voted unanimously to respond with a proposal by the August 14 deadline. We now await the review process. If successful, the award will mean some considerable changes for MichBio, and its capacity, capabilities, leadership, structure, and governance. Stay tuned for the verdict.
Lastly, staff and I have been working hard on organizing the upcoming “Cutting Edge: Drug Discovery and Development in Michigan Symposium” set for September 9-10. This inaugural event will take place at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing. It’ll feature an exciting program with superb academic and industry drug development speakers, 30 research posters, and about eighteen exhibitors. We’re anticipating at least 150 attendees. The event is being co-presented with the URC and hosted by Michigan State University. Visit www.michbio.org/mi-drug-discovery to register and additional information.
We’ll catch up with you soon.