By Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
Focused on engineering, testing, research and specialized design services, the state is paving the way for the next generation of life sciences industry innovation, from discoveries in medicines and vaccines to medical device technology.
Over the past 150 years, Michigan has built a proud legacy of discovery and impact within the life sciences industry by honing its academic R&D ecosystem and rich manufacturing talent base to ensure the technologies, products and pharmaceuticals of the future are discovered, developed and made in Michigan.
Michigan’s manufacturing prowess, top 10 medical device manufacturing workforce and core of world-class companies make the state a top-tier location for medical device innovation. Businesses throughout the Great Lakes State manufacture surgical, optical, dental and other devices used in preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases and other medical conditions.
The proud home to 275 medical device and life sciences firms, including household industry names such as Pfizer and Stryker and exciting upstarts like Tetra Therapeutics, Michigan is among the top ten in the nation for number of industry companies it houses compared to the entire U.S.
Additionally, according to the Michigan Venture Capital Association’s 2021 Annual Research Report, the life science and information technology sectors continued to be the focus of capital deployment in 2020. Of the startups that received venture funding from Michigan venture capital firms in 2020, 34 percent were life science companies. From Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups, Michigan is increasingly competitive throughout the nation for developing, testing and deploying new medical device technologies.
Michigan companies also stepped up in a big way to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Pfizer, part of Michigan’s $28 billion life science industry, produced and distributed the first of three vaccines from one of the most technically advanced sterile injectable pharmaceutical facilities in the world. Genemarkers, headquartered in Kalamazoo, pivoted from its genomic services to offer COVID-19 testing; the firm grew from 10-15 employees to more than 50, while forming relationships with seven Michigan pharmacies, several universities and more than 30 skilled nursing facilities. Meanwhile, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing (GRAM) manufactured Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021 out of its Grand Rapids facility.
“We are fortunate in West Michigan to have access to a robust life sciences ecosystem that has allowed us to continue leveraging a highly skilled talent pipeline,” said Tom Ross, President and CEO of GRAM. “When we recruit, there are great people in Michigan that have the skills that we need, and these are very technical positions that require a good amount of education, training and development. There is no doubt that our company’s growth and success has been made possible because we call Michigan home.”
With research expertise and highly-ranked degree programs in medicine, biological science and other disciplines, Michigan is paving the way for the next generation of life sciences industry innovation, from discoveries in medicines and vaccines to medical device technology. Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC) continues to lead other peer clusters across the U.S. in medicine and biological science. The URC is the No. 1 cluster for undergraduate and advanced degrees in medicine and biological science, and the only cluster of its peers to offer a doctorate in osteopathic (DO) program; in addition, Michigan ranks No. 10 in the nation for biomedical engineering graduates.
From startups to global companies, Michigan is home to several leaders in the life sciences space.
In 2020, Perrigo, a global self-care provider based in Dublin, Ireland, announced it would be locating its new North American corporate headquarters on the Medical Mile in Grand Rapids. The city’s growing reputation as a leader in medical and life sciences innovation was one of the key reasons Perrigo chose Grand Rapids as the home of its new headquarters. Breaking ground in 2021, the new headquarters is expanding Perrigo’s presence in West Michigan, which includes more than 4,000 employees at its offices and manufacturing facilities in Allegan and Ottawa counties.
“Our commitment to consumer self-care remains steadfast, and so too does our commitment to West Michigan,” said Perrigo President and CEO Murray S. Kessler. “What is especially exciting about our future North American Corporate Headquarters in Grand Rapids is the location within the world-renowned Medical Mile, which will allow Perrigo to leverage the expertise of healthcare and innovation thought leaders who share our passion for making self-care accessible, affordable and effective for all.”
In August 2021, medical technology startup Bold Advanced Medical Future (BAMF) Health Inc. broke ground on its new Medical Mile headquarters at Michigan State University’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park. The company chose Grand Rapids for its Medical Mile research, healthcare and education cluster, and plans to launch an advanced cancer treatment in summer 2022. It is anticipated the headquarters and clinics will eventually employ 200 people.
Meanwhile, Fifth Eye, a startup company out of Ann Arbor, has developed technology to interpret a patient’s electrocardiogram and detect future instability before a patient shows any signs of distress. In 2015, the founding team at Fifth Eye received an award from the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization Program (MTRAC) Life Sciences Innovation Hub at the University of Michigan. By accessing this early funding, Fifth Eye was able to meet critical milestones as it built out the technology and prepared for spin out as a start-up company. In February 2022, Fifth Eye announced the FDA provided clearance to market its second-generation clinical decision support software, the analytic for hemodynamic instability (AHI) system, to hospitals across the country.
Whether it’s producing life-saving vaccines or developing life-saving technologies, Michigan continues to pave the way as a leader in life sciences industry innovation.