Wisconsin: A National Hub for Biomanufacturing

Wisconsin: A National Hub for Biomanufacturing

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.

Why here?

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.

Why now?

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.


  • >75 biomanufacturing companies in WI
  • Ongoing influx of biomanufacturing acquirers


  • 50 WI patent filings/year in biomanufacturing
  • WARF 7th in the world in 2016 patent outputs



  • >50 biomanufacturing start-ups in WI
  • Incubators/accelerators throughout WI


  • Innovative WI programs  from assoc. degree through PhD
  • WI is home of top programs for biomanufacturing education/training


Grainger Institute for Engineering

The UW Grainger Institute of Engineering has established at Biomanufacturing Thrust with Thurst leader Bill Murphy. The Grainger Institute for Engineering fosters new discoveries and builds the University’s global reputation as a leader in driving advances that help solve critical technological challenges.

Human Models for Analysis of Pathways (HMAPs) Center

The HMAPs Center, is an EPA sponsored Science to Achieve Results (STAR) center, based in UW-Madison, that addresses the need for human, organotypic culture models that comply with the requirements of contemporary toxin screening and drug discovery.

NIH Tissue on a Chip

The Tissue Chip for Drug Screening program is designed to improve the way new drugs are developed and tested, with involvment from UW. The program aims to develop bioengineered devices to improve the process of predicting whether drugs will be safe or toxic in humans.