Thursday, May 19, 2005
Mount Pleasant Is Hub of Emerging Michigan Nanotechnology Cluster
The 4th International Dendrimer Symposium got underway this week with a welcome from Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, who hailed the event as another indication of Michigan's leadership in the growing nanotechnology industry.
"Leaders have gathered here from over a dozen nations to discuss the commercialization and application of this groundbreaking research," Granholm said. "New technologies are going to shape Michigan's 21st century economy and bring more good paying jobs to our state."
This year marks the first time the Dendrimer Symposium has been held in the Western Hemisphere; the three previous conferences were held in Frankfurt, Tokyo and Berlin. The meeting from May 18 to 21 is attracting more than 80 internationally recognized speakers from 15 countries and nearly 100 research posters.
"The convening of this prestigious scientific meeting in mid Michigan demonstrates success for our strategy of fostering innovation and commercialization in competitive-edge technologies," Granholm said.
Dendrimers are a class of polymer molecules on the scale of one-billionth of a meter. They were discovered nearly 20 years ago at Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich. by Dr. Donald Tomalia, a native of Flint. His company, Dendritic NanoTechnologies, was founded in 2001 and is housed at CMU's Dendrimer Center in the Mount Pleasant SmartZone. Last January Dow took a stake in DNT in exchange for release of all of its dendrimer-related intellectual property to DNT and Australia-based StarPharma, another leading dendrimer company also with a stake in DNT.
The Governor hailed construction of the 17,000-square-foot addition to CMU's Center for Applied Research and Technology building as a major development for the growth of small tech in Michigan. The project is being funded by a grant of $250,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, $2.15 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and matching funds from CMU. Planned for completion in spring 2006, the new facility will feature state-of-the-art wet chemistry and bio-level laboratories. DNT and Canadian-based MultiGEN Diagnostics will be the first tenants.
The Center for Applied Research and Technology is one of 11 SmartZone technology clusters designated by the MEDC and represents a partnership between CMU, the city of Mount Pleasant and the Middle Michigan Development Corporation. The not-for-profit center is managed by the CMU Research Corporation.
Several other mid-Michigan researchers are using dendrimers to create advanced materials coatings for manufacturing and to create new or improve existing medical technologies, such as drug delivery vehicles and medical diagnosis agents.
Nanotech and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are considered enabling "small tech" fields that have applications in a wide variety of industry sectors. Small tech research and commercialization would benefit greatly from the Jobs for Michigan Fund recently proposed by the Governor. If passed by the state Legislature and approved by voters in a statewide ballot this November, the $2 billion bond initiative would provide a stable, dedicated source of funding to boost employment in high-tech, high-growth industries in the state including alternative energy, life sciences, advanced automotive manufacturing and materials and homeland security and defense.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.