LANSING – As part of her continuing effort to help keep Pfizer workers in Michigan, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm joined legislative leaders today in presenting Western Michigan University (WMU) with a ceremonial $10 million check for the new Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center.
“Today is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to ensure that Michigan’s pharmaceutical heritage is preserved,” Granholm said. “This new center will help our state build upon the great pharmaceutical discoveries of the past and continue as a leader in innovation and as a magnet for economic growth. And, it will help keep talented, highly-skilled workers in Michigan to make us a magnet state for life sciences and biotech job growth and expansion.”
Located at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center within the WMU Business Technology and Research Park in Kalamazoo, the center of excellence will promote life sciences research and commercialization in Michigan. The center will be used to coordinate research initiatives and provide a home for scientists as they work to establish new businesses and obtain funding to support research programs.
“We are absolutely delighted at the support and vote of confidence from the Governor and the Legislature that this funding represents,” said Dr. Judith I. Bailey, president of WMU. “This center will have an enormous impact on Michigan's future and its ability to move life sciences discoveries from the laboratory into the market place.
While this center may well make Michigan the model for other states to emulate, very few will be able to replicate the unique qualities we offer here – a long heritage of life sciences research, a pool of tremendously talented scientists, and professionals with extraordinary commercialization skills.”
The center will be funded through an appropriation to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The MEDC and the Life Sciences Steering Committee will be charged with reviewing and approving the center’s detailed business plan and regularly monitoring its progress.
Once that business plan is approved, university officials say they will move within a matter of days to extend their first offers of employment to scientists who will work in the center.
The funding is intended to be an investment in the center that will be repaid as it begins to generate royalties or profits. The repaid funds will go back into the Life Sciences Corridor Fund for use in funding future commercialization projects.
Funding for the new center is another element in Governor Granholm’s effort to help keep former Pfizer employees at work and at home in Michigan following the company’s recent acquisition of Pharmacia. The Governor has announced several other key efforts directed at helping former Pfizer employees. Those efforts include:
- $2 million from the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor for a company formation fund directed at helping former Pfizer employees begin new life sciences companies in Michigan;
- Ongoing discussions with Pfizer, encouraging the company to authorize carve-out companies that would commercialize Pfizer research. Pfizer recently announced plans to support one of those carve-out companies, Jasper Clinical Research and Development, with a three-year, $18 million contract;
- A high-tech career fair held in Kalamazoo last month which attracted more than 200 candidates;
- Support for legislation that would provide tax breaks to those who invest in Michigan venture capital companies focused on seed stage investments; and
- An aggressive business attraction campaign conducted by the MEDC to encourage life sciences companies to open new operations in west Michigan.
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