Medical partnership looks to federal government for funding

by Ellen Schmidt

A national initiative to broaden the countryâÄôs medical manufacturing sectors is catching on in Minnesota. This month, the U.S. Department of Commerce designated 13 universities, manufacturers and government organizations, like the University of Minnesota, to make up the Minnesota Medical Manufacturing Partnership as one of a dozen regional partnerships aimed at increasing collaboration between medical manufacturers. The partners hope the collaboration will lead to more federal funding for MinnesotaâÄôs medical field and increase the global reach of the stateâÄôs manufacturers. Focusing on higher education, development of new medical technology and globalizing the stateâÄôs industry could create more jobs in medical manufacturing, particularly for impoverished people, said Maura Donovan, the Office of University Economic DevelopmentâÄôs executive director and the partnershipâÄôs University representative. The program, she said, could improve MinnesotaâÄôs and the UniversityâÄôs image as a medical manufacturing hub. The partnership may also receive funding from the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, a federal program designed to support the manufacturing industry, said Jay Williams, the U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. As medical manufacturing companies increasingly move their operations overseas, many businesses in the industry will need to follow the trend to stay competitive, said Mac McKeen, the UniversityâÄôs Manufacturing Operations Management faculty director. âÄú[The medical manufacturing industry] is really the great American success story because of the regulated environment, [which has] kind of kept other countries out,âÄù he said. âÄúWe realize now that our companies will have to work on a global scale.âÄù Williams said globalizing will increase the number of medical technology buyers from countries worldwide and promote economic growth for the state. The partnership also hopes to increase affordable housing near medical manufacturing sites to help low-income and minority communities find employment, he said. âÄúThe demographic of the U.S. is changing, so this initiative is going to be a better and broader representation of the changing demographic in America,âÄù McKeen said.