West Michigan Life Sciences Sector on the Rise

According to The Grand Rapids Press, “West Michigan is on its way to attaining prominence in the life sciences industry.”

The paper, reporting this week on a just released study on attracting investment to the region, says, “Grand Rapids’ growing medical research capabilities, combined with Kalamazoo’s heritage of producing drugs and medical devices, create a critical mass that can compete with such life sciences hotbeds as Boston, Seattle and Singapore.”

The study, which says $750 million to $1 billion will need to be spent upfront in order to attract $5 billion in new investment to West Michigan over the next 10 years, calls for attracting venture capital for later-stage research, drawing larger pools of engineering and life sciences talent, and expanding the region’s global connections.

Efforts are already underway to help nurture West Michigan’s life sciences sector, of which roughly 200 companies are part.

In June, seven local companies — MedBio, ATEK Medical, Autocam Medical, Emerald Medical Devices and Supplies, Inrad, Cascade Life Solutions and Surge Medicalcreated the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium, a membership organization designed to assist small firms with product innovation, business collaboration, marketing and lean manufacturing technologies. The effort is backed by the West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative (WMSTI), a five-year-old partnership that was formed to grow and diversify the community economy by supporting the commercialization of science and technology.

Kim Bode, WMSTI’s marketing director, tells the Press that it’s this very kind of coming together that makes West Michigan special. “What sets us apart from San Diego and Boston is the amount of collaboration,” she says.

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