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Lilly Endowment funds OrthoWorx effort with $7 million

September 23, 2009

A new group expected to develop the orthopedic implants industry in Warsaw will be able to proceed now that Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. is putting $7 million behind it, according to an announcement this morning.

The money will fund the creation of OrthoWorx, an organization dreamed up by BioCrossroads Inc., a life sciences development group based in Indianapolis.

BioCrossroads called for the creation of OrthoWorx in a Sept. 10 report, also funded by Lilly Endowment, which analyzed the strengths and challenges of Warsaw’s orthopedics hub.

The region accounts for nearly one-third of the worldwide revenue of the $32.5 billion orthopedics industry, the report determined.

Medical-device firms and the companies that serve them employ more than 6,000 people in Kosciusko County, where Warsaw is the county seat. From 2001 to 2007, employment growth in the local medical-device sector surged 39 percent.

But the Warsaw cluster faces two major challenges. First, health care reform and increased federal regulations could squeeze the profits of orthopedic-implant makers, pressuring them to outsource operations to lower-cost regions. Second, cell-regeneration and stem-cell technologies are threatening to one day render artificial hip and knee replacements unnecessary. The Warsaw companies are working to make those breakthroughs, rather than be broken by them.

Lilly Endowment will give the money to the Kosciusko County Community Foundation. The foundation will create a charitable affiliate, the Orthopedic Capital Foundation, and work to form a business league focused on the orthopedic industry.

“We are pleased that a promising plan and framework have been developed, after many months of deliberation and good effort, to secure and enhance the region’s competitive appeal to the orthopedic industry now and in the future,” N. Clay Robbins, president of the Lilly Endowment, said in a statement.
 

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