Granholm Announces Support to Keep Pfizer Talent, Resources in Michigan

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Governor Granholm today announced three more Michigan companies have been selected to receive loans under the state’s CFG fund

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced three more Michigan companies have been selected to receive loans under the state’s Company Formation and Growth (CFG) fund, an initiative aimed at retaining Pfizer talent and assets in Michigan. Three Kalamazoo-based high-tech companies were approved for loans of $150,000 each by the Michigan Strategic Fund board (MSF) today to hire former Pfizer scientists.

The MSF board also approved a $1.5 million allocation from the 21st Century Jobs Fund to support the acquisition of the former Pfizer facility in Plymouth Township to create the Life Science and Innovation Center.

“No state is doing more to diversify its economy than we are,” Granholm said. “Keeping Pfizer talent in Michigan is crucial to that objective, and we are taking every possible step to assist these talented researchers and scientists in triggering entrepreneurial activity and high-tech job creation.”

The following companies were approved for CFG loans:

CeeTox, founded as a contract research organization in 2003, is located in state-of-the-art laboratory space in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center business incubator. It is focused on in-vitro toxicity screening of potential drug candidates and chemicals. 

Forensic Fluidsis active in the oral fluid drug testing market. Formed in 2005, the company is trending towards $1 million in revenue this year. Several ex-Pfizer scientistshave already been identified to manage the company’s lab facility.

Unifab, specializing in a biomedical product line, was incorporated in Michigan in 1940 and came under new ownership in 2007.    

“The actiontaken today underlines our emphasis on entrepreneurship as the vehicle for taking cutting-edge research and innovations into the marketplace,” MEDC Presidentand CEO James C. Epolito said. “Today’s funding will keep Pfizer scientists working and living in Michigan and lead directly to the growth of new Michigan businesses and good-paying jobs for Michigan workers.” Epolito also serves as chairman and president of the MSF board.

MSF created the $8-million Company Formation and Growth fund in June 2007 to accelerate company formation and growth and job creation based on employees, technologies and high-tech equipment left behind when Pfizer closed facilities in Ann Arbor, Holland, Kalamazoo, Plymouth Township and Portage. 

“Southwest Michigan believes that talent is what makes a company great as evidenced by the great companies located here,” Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens said. “The funding received by these three, great, innovative companies – CeeTox, Forensic Fluids and Unifab – will enablethem to take advantage of Pfizer’s scientific talent to propel their research and development and product offerings to the next level.”

The proposed Life Science and Innovation Center will connect well-funded, experienced entrepreneurs with business accelerator organizations and start-up companies. The initiative will be supported with $3.5 million from the MEDC, Ann Arbor SPARK, Greater Wayne Economic Development and a private foundation to purchase the facility from Pfizer.

The center will offer office and state-of-the-art lab facilities. Business acceleration services will include peer-to-peer mentoring and access to wet lab and research space, funding support and other critical services. A to-be-formed nonprofit organization will operate the facility.  

“The Life Science and Innovation Center represents the region’s next step in diversifying our life sciences economy beyond Pfizer,” Ann Arbor SPARK President Michael A. Finney said. “Ann Arbor SPARK and our partners in this effort are committed to attracting and retaining high-value knowledge workers and leading-edge life science companies.”

“Cross-regional collaboration is vital to ensuring Michigan’s new economic success,” Greater Wayne Economic Development CEO Mulugetta Birru said. “Providing access to all of the myriad resources a start-up needs to thrive, all under one roof, will result in creating a life sciences hub in metro Detroit. TheLife Science and Innovation Center is a destination for companies that want to grow in southeast Michigan.”

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.