Advanced manufacturing of therapeutic medical/lab devices and instrumentation, cells, or tissues – termed “Biomanufacturing” – is emerging as a substantial industry in the United States. National biomanufacturing initiatives are being supported by multiple federal agencies, including NIST, DoD, DARPA, NSF, and NIH. In addition, private companies have increasingly focused on developing biomanufacturing approaches in order to generate products in the large and rapidly expanding regenerative medicine market (23.7% CAGR, $50B global market by 2021). The state of Wisconsin is home to 75 companies in the biomanufacturing space, and 17% of Wisconsin jobs are in manufacturing. Thus, Wisconsin is a powerful national hub for biomanufacturing.
The University of Wisconsin (UW) is an internationally recognized leader in biomanufacturing research, including cell therapy, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Notably, Dr. Jamie Thomson’s ongoing stem cell research that led to his group pioneering the isolation and culture of human pluripotent stem cells in 2007. The program’s success is due in part to UW’s prominence in each of the critical areas needed to develop biomanufacturing technologies – engineering, life sciences, medicine, veterinary, and technology transfer. Madison’s inordinately large life science industry relative to its size, and proximity to medical device and pharma hubs (Minneapolis, Chicago, Warsaw IN), also make it an ideal Midwest epicenter for biomanufacturing innovation.
Wisconsin has successfully spun out biomanufacturing companies and attracted an influx of larger industry partners. Notable recent examples include Fujifilm’s acquisition of Cellular Dynamics International and Mallinkrodt’s acquisition of Stratatech. These examples only scratch the surface of what is possible, given the productivity of UW and WARF in this area (> 500 patent applications since 2004). In addition, UW stakeholders and the State of Wisconsin are increasingly interested in innovative education programs that connect UW students/faculty with entrepreneurs and industry. Finally, biomanufacturing sits at the intersection of multiple ongoing federal funding initiatives, including advanced manufacturing, precision medicine, and cell therapy. Wisconsin is ideally suited to pursue this scope of public and private opportunities, as we have a critical mass of leading innovators and a broad base of industry leaders.