April 20, 2012 18:09 ET

MichBio Annual Meeting Attendees Get Glimpse Into Obama Administration's Plans for Biotech

ANN ARBOR, MI--(Marketwire - Apr 20, 2012) - Nearly 200 Michigan bioscience leaders gathered at the VisTaTech Center at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI, for MichBio's Annual Meeting and Showcase on Thursday night. In his keynote address Michael Stebbins, assistant director for biotechnology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, noted that the Obama Administration will soon announce a new biotech plan that will include improvements in strategic research and development, workforce training and fulfillment, commercialization and entrepreneurship, regulatory reform, and public-private partnerships.

Although Stebbins said he couldn't give 'too much detail' on the plan, he did say that the administration is working hard to do whatever it can to get the government out of the way of the biotech sector.

During his speech, Stebbins spoke about the next generation of scientists and how we need to start reaching children at a much younger age. "Our problem is that we're not reaching kids and showing them how cool this stuff really is," said Stebbins. He went on to recognize community colleges, around the country and in Michigan, who he says are providing some of the most competitive, game-changing biotech programs.

Stebbins previously served as a science adviser to the Obama campaign and on the Obama transition team. He is the former director of biology policy for the Federation of American Scientists and president of Scientists and Engineers for America Action Fund. He is a co-founder and served on the Board of Directors for Scientists and Engineers for America. Stebbins is a former professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked as a Legislative Fellow for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and as a Public Policy Fellow for the National Human Genome Research Institute.

In his annual report on the state of the Michigan biotech industry, MichBio president and CEO Stephen Rapundalo said Michigan "is a success story nationally. We have a robust bio industry here in the state. What we don't do so well is message that effectively to the rest of the world."

To help get the word out, MichBio is doing its part through the creation of new programs and initiatives. Rapundalo noted they have recently implemented a new and integrated association management system that has increased functionality to meet the growth needs of the association's membership. In addition, MichBio continued to add Preferred Providers to its roster of member benefits in 2011. The program, which has more than 75 participating companies, has provided more than $500,000 in savings. Lastly, MichBio is also currently engaged in discussions with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on how to develop support services for Michigan's emerging biosciences companies.

"It's through these initiatives that I get great confidence where the Michigan bio industry can grow in the future," Rapundalo said.

During his address, Rapundalo said that he will continue to advocate for Michigan's biotech industry in the coming year and seek more grassroots involvement from its member companies and others in the state's bio-community. "We're at a critical time for biosciences in Michigan, and we need to continue to find ways to meet the industry's ever-changing demands and that means engagement on public policy matters."

At the Annual Meeting, MichBio members elected six board directors to three-year terms. Newly elected were Arik Anderson, Vice President of Product Development at Terumo Cardiovascular Systems; Doug Gage, Director of the Michigan State University BioEconomy Network in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies; Dale Grogan, Managing Director, Michigan Accelerator Fund; Tim M. Mayleben, CEO, President & Director, Aastrom Biosciences; Tina S. Rogers, PhD, MBA, DABT, Executive Vice President, Director of Research and Interim Vice President, Bioanalytical and Analytical Services, MPI Research; and Ned Staebler, Vice President, Economic Development, Wayne State University. Re-elected to the board was John J. H. Schwarz, MD, Practicing Physician and Former U.S. Representative.

The Annual Business Meeting followed a very successful inaugural Michigan Bio-Talent Summit. Approximately 100 representatives from different sectors of the bio-industry, higher education institutions, workforce and economic development groups, foundations and other stakeholders statewide gathered to discuss talent and workforce development needs. Attendees heard a variety of industry speakers on the necessity for demand-driven strategies to ensure a robust pipeline of qualified talent. The event also featured keynotes from Russell Read, Director of the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce, and Peter Pellerito from the Biotechnology Industry Organization, who provided national perspectives on best practices in talent development initiatives.

MichBio will host its next BioMixer networking event on April 30 from 5-7 at Prima Civitas in East Lansing, Michigan. The event will be sponsored by the BioAlliance of Mid-Michigan. MichBio will also have a presence at the 2012 Bio International Convention in Boston, MA, on June 18-21.

MichBio is the trade association committed to driving growth of Michigan's biosciences industry. MichBio members include biosciences companies, academic and research institutions, biosciences service providers, and related organizations. For more information, visit