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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Build better identity, life sciences urged
(wgvu) - Build better identity, life sciences urged

March 20, 2008

By Mark Sanchez

She wants to put her 25 years of business-to-business marketing
experience to work in a new arena life sciences.

But when she was looking for opportunity, Carol Danhof says she found a
confusing lineup of alphabet soup organizations and economic
development agencies that left her unsure how exactly to gain an access

I don't know who is responsible for what and what their role
is, said Danhof, the director of Result Promotion Group in
Grandville, who voiced her frustration last week during Business
Review's life-sciences Michigan Leaders Speak forum, held at
Western Michigan University's Fetzer Center in Kalamazoo.

Danhof told panelists that life sciences in Michigan needs to make
itself more accessible as well as work on developing a single brand
identity within the state and across the nation.

No matter what the industry, you've got to get a message there to
your clients in a clear and concise manner, she said.

It's a point that panelists readily conceded, saying they agreed with
the need for Michigan's life-sciences industry to do a better job at
promoting itself.

I don't think it's enough to say we're open for business,
said Stephen Rapundalo, executive director of the Ann Arbor-based trade
group MichBio. What is the message we're putting out to the larger
world about what Michigan has to offer?

We haven't gotten to that point, he added, bringing the issue
down to one of aligning priorities.

Much of the focus to this point has gone toward seeding new companies,
supporting entrepreneurs and attracting investments.

In acknowledging the need for a cohesive message, West Michigan Science
& Technology Initiative Executive Direc tor Linda Chamberlain reminded
the 150 forum attendees that developing the industry in Michigan is a
20- to 25-year effort that remains in its early stages.

Among the hardest parts about life sciences is it takes a long
time, Chamberlain said.

Core Technology Alliance Executive Director John Greenfield also was
part of the townhall-style panel.

Looking back at the decade-long effort to build the sector, Michael
Jandernoa former chairman and CEO at Perrigo Co. in Allegan and now
general partner of Bridge Street Capital Partners in Grand Rapids
said Michigan has made significant progress but has a long ways to

This is clearly a journey, Jandernoa said in his keynote address
that took on the tone of an industry pep talk. It's not a
destination, and each one of us in this room has to take part in that

Jandernoa urged professionals associated with the industry to be
ambassadors and work to educate, communicate, recruit and
celebrate its successes.

Life sciences is helping to transition the state's economy, he said.
Given the current state of Michigan's economy, we need a sense of
urgency in building life sciences, Jandernoa said.

We've got the nucleus of something we can build on, and if
there's ever been a time to get excited and energized about
something, it's now, he said. We've got work to do, and
you've got to go about making it happen."

Michigan has more than 500 companies involved in life sciences. Since
2000, there have been 125 new life-sciences companies formed in the
state and more than $500 million invested in the industry.
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