The aging of the population in developed nations, a growing middle class in the developing world and the demand for a higher quality of life among all populations are driving demand for life sciences solutions. Healthcare expenditure in the developed world is already outpacing GDP, and the gap is widening. Few industries can come close to matching the long-term growth potential of bio-science industries.
Michigan is well placed to capitalize on this demand. We turn out the eighth highest number of university bio-science degrees and rank 15th in employment in this arena. For example, we confer 5,500 degrees in the bio-science field every year and registered more than 1800 bio-science patents in the five years from 2004 to 2009, giving us a tenth-place ranking in the nation.
We have a unique combination of excellent high-end medical research facilities and an overcapacity of hospital acute care facilities. In addition, the bio-pharma industry employed more than 20,000 people directly in the state in 2008, and another 75,000 in related industries. It contributed $8 billion directly to our state output, and seeded a further $12 billion in revenue in related industries.
Michigan has a number of opportunities to grow its life sciences assets. One place to start is with bio-pharma products. This area has a strong cluster effect and a great potential for further growth, and we could jumpstart it by cultivating an incubation hub for bio-pharma. Accelerating efforts would help foster more startups and encourage them into profitability, and create the broader connections across the entrepreneurial community to help this industry grow in Michigan.
We can be a center of excellence developing research, testing and medical lab services to serve the broader life science industry. We have a great starting point: In recent years we conferred 17 percent more bachelor’s degrees in bio-science and engineering per capita than the national average. And we rank 13th in the country in running clinical trials for drugs and medical devices, a service that plays to our strengths.
Finally, we should pursue all available means to make Michigan a destination of excellence for medical care of out-of-state and foreign patients, both in the high-end and lower-price markets. Healthcare expenditure in the developed world is already outpacing GDP, and the gap is widening. In the U.S., the wellness industry has grown at an average annual pace of more than 22 percent in the last decade. A focused commitment could put us in an excellent position to reap far more than our natural share of that growth.
Our state’s more than 150 hospitals, 50 of them with large acute care facilities, are less than 70 percent occupied and many are nationally recognized centers of excellence.
What’s needed to fulfill our potential is a clear road map that demonstrates a long-term commitment to the growth of the life sciences industry. That should include long-horizon investments, a rational regulatory and legal environment, strong support for the universities and their efforts to pursue cutting-edge research and attract top quality students and faculty, and entrepreneurial support for start-ups and scaling of successful small and medium-sized companies.