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MichBio Leader Cites New Senate Biosciences Task Force and House Subcommittee as Evidence of State's Growing Awareness of Industry's Economic Importance

ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaking to a crowd of more than 170 bioscience leaders at the MichBio Annual Meeting in Ann Arbor Wednesday night, Stephen Rapundalo, Ph.D., MichBio president and CEO, said that a growing awareness by state legislators of the industry's economic growth potential has culminated in the formation of a Task Force on Biotechnology as part of the Senate's Economic Development & Regulatory Reform Committee as well as a House Subcommittee focused on biosciences as part of the Committee on New Economy & Quality of Life.

Both the Task Force and the Subcommittee will have a common focus and are of equal legislative stature. The Task Force will be chaired by Sen. Randy Richardville (R) and the Subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Ed Clemente.

Plans are for both bodies to hold a series of statewide hearings through the summer and early fall to gather testimony from the industry. Once collected and compiled, the information would be used to develop new policy and legislatives measures that would enable the economic promise of the bio-industry. Michigan is the fourth state in the country to constitute a standing legislative body focused on the biosciences or biotechnology. The other states include California, Minnesota and Illinois. It is the only state to have such legislative groups in both the Senate and the House.

"The Senate Task Force and House Subcommittee should bring to bear more legislative muscle that will hopefully translate into additional resources for sustaining and growing Michigan's biosciences industry," Rapundalo said. He also noted that, "In concert with the Biosciences Legislative Caucus serving as a broader interest group, Michigan now has a powerful 'one-two' punch that will greatly enhance the stature of our industry within the state's economy."

Rapundalo noted that the Biosciences Legislative Caucus is a group of state legislators co-chaired by Randy Richardville and Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), with a common interest in supporting and growing the biosciences industry in Michigan.

"The growing interest by legislators in our industry is being translated into new attention for the Caucus. Indeed, we've planned a meet and learn program for about three dozen legislators on June 2 in Lansing," Rapundalo said. "We hope to educate the legislators about Michigan's bio-industry, and give them a town hall-format opportunity to hear from CEOs about the industry's issues, challenges and opportunities."

In addition to positive developments in legislative advocacy, Rapundalo pointed out that MichBio has achieved much in the areas of member services, communications and visibility despite a challenging business climate.

"MichBio understands that everyone is watching their bottom line and that companies need support and resources that can help with their daily operations," he said. "That's why we have placed a greater emphasis on developing our Preferred Provider Program. Simply put, those members who've taken advantage of our Providers save cold, hard cash - many times their annual membership fee."

MichBio's Preferred Providers offer members with access to services and/or discounts on products and services such as laboratory supplies, insurance, professional and scientific journals; media services; office supplies and furniture; computer and technology products and website development. During the meeting, Rapundalo announced the addition of four new providers: information and business research services through Nature and Windhover, lab gas supplies via Linde Gas, and financial and accounting services with Doeren Mayhew.

In the area of communications and visibility, Rapundalo noted that to bolster the state's efforts to promote its bioscience assets, infrastructure, talent, capabilities, technologies, and successes, MichBio introduced a new bi-annual magazine, BioMatters, during the year. Devoted to chronicling the discoveries, trends, issues and personalities that are shaping Michigan's biosciences community, the publication reaches more than 5000 readers in and out of state.

"We are days away from receipt of the second issue of the magazine. This issue will also contain the newly updated Biosciences Directory and Resource Guide cataloging all the bioscience-related companies, institutions and organization to be found in Michigan, and classified by functional sub-categories and location," Rapundalo said.

MichBio has also partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in planning the MI Pavilion at the BIO International Conference in Atlanta May 18-21. "We've strived to improve Michigan's presence at this event including partnering with Illinois, Missouri and Kansas to host the Midwest Blues Reception, the largest social event of the conference week second only to BIO's Opening Reception," he added. Sixteen Michigan companies, institutions and organizations will join MichBio and the MEDC in the pavilion to help market the state's biosciences sector.

Rapundalo noted that the MichBio Expo and Conference is set for November 3 and 4 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo Rock Financial Showcase in Novi, and will include a robust program including the Emerging Biosciences Showcase, one-on-one business partnering meetings and a legislative policy town hall as well as workshops and track sessions on research and development, medical affairs and markets, emerging business, and manufacturing. Company tours, a poster session, hot innovations update and awards will also be part of this year's Expo.

Harry Stylli, Ph.D., president and CEO of San Diego, CA-based Sequenom, Inc. was the keynote speaker at the meeting with a presentation entitled, "Sequenom: Successfully Riding the Biotech Tsunami?" Sequenom has established a presence in Michigan with recent acquisitions of the Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM) in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor-based Sensigen.

During the Annual Meeting, MichBio members elected six board directors to three-year terms. Elected to the board were J. Patrick Elliott, Vice President, Business Development Terumo Cardiovascular Systems Corp. (Ann Arbor) and Barry Klein, Director, Market Development, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (Comstock Park). Re-elected were James F. Freeman, Ph.D., Vice President, Laboratory Services, Pfizer Animal Health (Kalamazoo); Mark Kielb, Chief Financial Officer, Altarum Institute (Ann Arbor); John J.H. Schwarz, M.D., Family Health Center (Battle Creek), and former U.S. Representative; and Eric Stief, Director, Venture Development, Wayne State University-Technology Commercialization (Detroit).

MichBio is the single unifying voice and statewide representative for the life sciences industry in Michigan as well as the formal state affiliate of the national Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) organization. As a trade association, MichBio is committed to driving industry growth across Michigan by creating high-value opportunities for education, collaboration, networking, and advocacy, and by providing services and resources that foster a flourishing environment for bioscience businesses. For more information visit the MichBio website at

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