By Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
With a robust history of innovation and dedicated research and development ecosystem, Michigan has a hands-on approach to healthcare.
Over the past 150 years, Michigan has been the proud destination for life sciences discoveries, medical device technologies and the chemical manufacturing frontier. Building upon a legacy of discovery and impact, Michigan continues to attract a host a life sciences investment from companies around the globe through its academic research and development ecosystem and robust manufacturing workforce.
Today, Michigan has 1.3 times more workers than the national average within the medical devices and life sciences sector, while ranking in the top 10 for its number of medical device technology business locations. Michigan also ranks eighth among all U.S. states for investment in the life sciences and medical device industries, with 68 incented deals totaling more than $1.74 billion of investment over the last ten years.
During that time, the rest of the world has also taken notice, as the state has received nearly $369 million in foreign direct investments within those critical industries.
With its history of innovation and dedication to research in the life sciences space, Michigan is uniquely positioned to continue driving the growth of the healthcare industry.
West Michigan has become a growing hub for life science industry growth in the state, with medical and life science professionals from around the world leveraging the region’s clinical, research and academic institutions. In fact, the region has five times more workers than the U.S. average in the medical device sector. From development and design to manufacturing and distribution, West Michigan is a national hub for high-tech and medical device solutions.
The world-renowned Medical Mile in Grand Rapids acts as a destination for health systems, universities and medical manufacturers from across the globe. For example, Perrigo, a leading global provider of self-care products, announced in October 2020 its plans to establish its North American Corporate Headquarters in Grand Rapids. The project is expected to create 170 jobs and generate $44.7 million in private investment. Through its unique public/private partnerships, the region’s clinical research and medical device manufacturers are blazing trails and drawing in talent.
Meanwhile, colleges and universities throughout West Michigan, including Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, graduate more than 4,000 health and medical students every year, with opportunities to enter a workforce of more than 60,000 bioscience-related jobs.
West Michigan is home to the global headquarters for Stryker, a top 10 medical device company in the U.S. developing medical products based on patients’ changing needs. In addition to a 253,000-square-foot expansion in Portage, Michigan, the global medical technology manufacturer is expected to add 260 jobs by end of 2025. Stryker’s new corporate campus features a customer experience center, functioning showroom, state-of-the-art R&D test lab and a bio-skills lab for research and new product development. The investment and creation of new jobs points to Stryker’s commitment as a dynamic force in the state’s medical technology industry.
Collaboration Across Campuses
Thanks to an extensive university ecosystem investing in future industry solutions, Michigan is a national leader in its focus on the life sciences industry. Universities throughout Michigan feature dedicated programs and laboratory space to support growth of the state’s life sciences workforce, ranking among the highest caliber schools in the nation. Michigan is among the top ten states in the country for its biomedical engineering graduates, and proudly ranks sixth in the nation for its number of patents – demonstrating continued leadership in driving future discoveries shaping the industry today.
Michigan’s University Research Corridor, an alliance between Michigan State University (MSU), University of Michigan (UM) and Wayne State University, is one of the nation’s top academic research clusters and the leading engine for innovation in Michigan and the Great Lakes region. UM offers 19 top 10 engineering programs, while MSU is globally recognized for its No. 1-ranked Supply Chain/Logistics graduate program by U.S. News & World Report for the last five years.
Michigan is also home to the award-winning Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) program, a network of five statewide Innovation Hubs which support the acceleration of technology transfer from the state’s institutions of higher education, hospital systems and nonprofit research centers. Together, these collaborations are commercializing technologies that provide innovative solutions to real-world challenges.
An ongoing partnership between Spectrum Health Innovations and the Grand Valley State University engineering department recently led to a game-changing innovation for nurses and other healthcare workers, thanks to support and guidance from the MTRAC for Life Sciences Innovation Hub. Tasked with developing a better, safer way for lateral patient transport, GVSU engineering students designed a “patient auto-slider,” which greatly reduces the risk of injury to healthcare workers and patients when moving between lateral surfaces. Spectrum Health is now pursuing FDA approvals for the device, branded as the SimPull lateral patient transfer device, with plans to bring it to market by the end of the year.
The SimPull device – from its initial design in 2016 to testing and manufacturing – is indicative of the rich collaboration between universities and innovation hubs across Michigan.
In addition to medical device technology innovation, Michigan has a rich history of developing life-changing—and lifesaving—medications. Xanax, the first antianxiety medication, and Halcion, the first insomnia drug, were both discovered and manufactured by Kalamazoo-based Upjohn Company in western Michigan. AZT, the first approved treatment for HIV/AIDS, was discovered at Wayne State University in Detroit. And the leading chemotherapy drug, Cisplatin, was discovered at Michigan State University in East Lansing; Cisplatin is now used as a treatment in a wide range of malignancies.
When the world changed due to the COVID-19 crisis, Michigan’s history of experience and expertise in medical device manufacturing helped the state step in and step up. Michigan manufacturers worked quickly at the start of the pandemic to retool production lines to make everything from ventilators to hand sanitizers to support frontline workers. Months later, Pfizer – part of Michigan’s $28 billion life science industry – had produced the first of three lifesaving vaccines.
In December 2020, all eyes were on Michigan to witness the historic journey of the first trucks carrying the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine departing the plant in Portage, Michigan. In early 2021, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing in Grand Rapids was chosen to help manufacture the Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, earning the state recognition as a global leader in commercializing, testing and deploying new life sciences technologies and medications.
Michigan’s role in the production of sterile injectable pharmaceuticals is set for the future. In March 2021, Pfizer broke ground on the $450 million Modular Aseptic Processing (MAP), one of the world’s most technically advanced sterile injectable pharmaceutical facilities. The 420,000-square-foot facility will expand Pfizer’s operations at its existing Portage campus, integrating advanced manufacturing technologies. The new facility builds on Michigan’s driven workforce, dedicated R&D ecosystem and history of innovation in life sciences.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and new healthcare challenges remain on the horizon, Michigan is poised to be a part of the solution.
Visit michiganbusiness.org/med-device to learn more about Michigan’s work and opportunities in the life sciences industry.