Indiana's life sciences resources to be catalogued:

July 23, 2007

An idea fermenting for some time in the minds of several Indiana Health Industry Forum insiders has solidified into a plan to catalogue all life sciences-related resources across the state.

The not-for-profit group, which promotes economic development in the health care and life sciences industries, will use the information to create strategies for communities, regions and the state to boost Indiana's growth in the industry.

Companies including Eli Lilly and Co., Roche Diagnostics and Zimmer Holdings have put the state on the map, said forum CEO Mike Brooks. Perhaps more significant, lesser-known companies contribute more to the state's life sciences industry than many people realize.

"We are already nationally ranked as a leading life sciences state," Brooks said. "But no one has a good handle on all those resources and where they reside and how we can create an environment to build collaboration between regions."

So the group's initiative, which is being announced this week at meetings statewide, will connect the dots that make up the state's life sciences assets.

The group will help communities review their assets, then recommend ways to retain and grow existing assets and lure opportunities.

"We're looking for communities to work with us," Brooks said. "Some communities in the state have no life sciences companies, so they may not have much interest in the project."

Information from communities will be combined into regions that will have their own strategic plans. South Bend, Elkhart and Warsaw might be included in a region, for example.

Finally, the communities and regions will be tied together into an overall statewide plan.

"It's kind of a bottom-up approach," Brooks said. "We have more information on central Indiana because we're housed here, but there are resources in all corners of the state. Those resources are important for that community but also to the entire state."

And while his group's mission may seem similar to that of BioCrossroads, the two initiatives are quite different, Brooks said.

BioCrossroads focuses on raising funds for startups and finding opportunities for companies and organizations, like IHIF, Brooks said. BioCrossroads is interested in looking at business plans of companies and looking at where they might lend investment help.

"Our mission has nothing to do with any of that," Brooks said. "It's more about engaging communities and letting them help us grow the sector."

The Health Industry Forum is evaluating responses to a request for proposals for a consultant to work with the communities and regions. A few of the responses met all criteria, but no universities responded.

Brooks estimates that a decision could come in two to three weeks.

A budget will be created once the cost of the consultant is known. Funding is being provided by companies and the communities as well as the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

The mapping is expected to result in a database of companies, organizations, schools, researchers and hospitals that communities and regions can tap for expertise needed to move their strategic plans forward.
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