Reflections on 2023

As 2023 ends, we’ve been reflecting on the impact our team made on Michigan’s life sciences industry.

While there were certainly challenges along the way, we’re proud of the work done here at MichBio and hope you’ve noticed our efforts to convene, connect, inform, and advocate for the statewide life sciences cluster. Some reflections on activities over the past 12 months…

The year began with a well-attended reception for legislators and policymakers in late January where leaders from across the industry and state got a chance to raise awareness of their organizations and the impact they bring, along with that of the overall cluster, to Michigan’s economy. The event set the stage for MichBio’s subsequent advocacy efforts as elected officials and staff were generally better informed of our mission and priorities.

Not to rest solely on the success of that event, MichBio hosted several others around the state and better connect the life sciences ecosystem. Networking socials in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Royal Oak, Traverse City and Kalamazoo brought together old industry friends and created opportunities to make new acquaintances. Look for more schmoozing in 2024!

Late spring offered a unique chance for MichBio to engage the regional life sciences ecosystem by convening researchers and other stakeholders and respond to a federal solicitation towards establishing a Customer Experience Hub as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). The hub incorporates human-centered and design-thinking principles into ARPA-H initiatives, including reaching patient populations and engaging with providers. Through a series of Zoom gatherings and on an extremely short timeline, MichBio and others, including Corewell Health and the MSU Foundation, pulled together a submission. While we weren’t successful in being awarded the Hub, we learned a lot about the considerable partnerships already here in Michigan, and more importantly, the significant opportunity to expand such collaboration.

In September, MichBio presented the Michigan Life Sciences Showcase, in part to celebrate our 30th anniversary as an organization. More importantly, it gave us a great opportunity to feature thought leadership from across our research, biopharma, medtech and healthtech sectors. Sessions showcased the latest in scientific discovery, sustaining a life sciences workforce,

The highlight of 2023 most assuredly was hosting the Governor’s Roundtable on Growing Michigan’s Life Sciences Industry in late October. Industry executives from across the state gathered to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing their business growth and success. Governor Whitmer, along with leadership of the Biosciences Legislative Caucus and Michigan Economic Development Corporation engaged actively, asking numerous questions, and seeking perspectives on a variety of issues. It was a phenomenal gathering, and we were fortunate to have Governor Whitmer dedicate an hour of her valued time. The Roundtable served as a great foundation to jumpstarting an update to the statewide biosciences industry strategic plan in 2024.

“A five-alarm fire for the life sciences industry” …that’s how one legislator described the legislative policy landscape facing Michigan biosciences cluster. The year was unlike anything MichBio witnessed in a very long time as the industry was challenged relentlessly on numerous fronts – from attempts to regulate the use of animals in research, mandate drug price controls, institute data privacy directives and allow right-to-repair of medical devices. Much of the proposed legislation was anticipated as Democrats took control of the legislative and executive branches for the first time in decades and endeavored to pass their long-cherished policies.

The likelihood of losing their majority in the House this fall along with having to shorten the legislative session to accommodate electoral timelines resulted in most legislation being accelerated without proper due diligence, discussion and improvement prior to deliberation and passage. Many legislators were (and remain) misinformed and misguided, and some cases, simply blinded by myths about how product development and biomedical innovation occur and what influences patient affordability and access. This caused MichBio spending inordinate hours, often alongside statewide and national partners, trying to educate and better inform policymakers with independent data – a most time-consuming effort.

Nevertheless, MichBio’s efforts led to some legislative successes. For instance, passage of “Teddy’s Law” that would allow for adoption of research animals included features important to the life sciences industry (see Advocacy Watch for details). In addition, we were able to garner exemption for medical devices in the right-to-repair legislation and ensure that medical products are only worked on by FDA-certified and authorized personnel. Most importantly, MichBio was able to drive legislation that would reestablish a R&D Tax Credit (see Advocacy Watch for details) to the brink of final passage before the legislative calendar ran out. Talk about exhaustion and a myriad of emotions after all that!

We’d be remiss in not mentioning our great partnership with the MEDC. MichBio is privileged to support the agency’s efforts in retaining Michigan’s life science companies, as well as recruiting foreign direct investment to the state. In 2023, we collaborated on ensuring a State of Michigan presence at major industry events such as MD&M West, BIO International Convention, MEDICA and Select USA Investment Summit, where we hosted Michigan companies, showcased our life sciences assets, and met with interested parties from around the globe on the benefits doing business with our cluster. In addition, MichBio has been leading in the creation of a comprehensive directory of company assets and capabilities, beginning with medical device suppliers and contract manufacturers, and expanding to OEMs and other sectors.

On the business side, MichBio’s Preferred Purchasing Program was utilized by well over a hundred members across almost 150 contractual arrangements that brought a net savings of almost $18 million. MichBio is heartened by our members’ engagement in the program that features over a dozen vendors and the tangible benefits it brings to their bottom line and long-term growth, whether they be an early-stage or large multi-national enterprise.

Organizationally, MichBio had its upheavals too. Long-time staff Elizabeth Foster and Alisha Brown departed for new endeavors in the late spring and mid-fall respectively. We welcomed Emily Brockman as our new Director, Member Relations this summer and who’s off to a great start in getting acquainted with our life sciences community, and are amid a search for a Director, Marketing and Industry Engagement. Through it all, we’ve tried our best to maintain a high level of service and support.

In closing, thank you to our members, without whom MichBio would not exist. We’re proud to deliver our business resources and benefits, advocacy and influence, education and programming, in support of our members, and generally informing and raising awareness of Michigan’s great life sciences cluster.

See you in 2024!

The MichBio Team

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