Health Innovation Eyed as Economic Booster


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, November 24th, 2015 – Sarasota and Manatee counties are building up momentum to grow the region’s presence in biotechnology wherein advances are continuing relentlessly and delivering profound impact on the health care industry, an area that has been identified as critical in diversifying growth of the local economy.

The two counties jointly showcased the growing capability of the region to be a major U.S. hub for biotechnology during the Health Innovation Week held November 9-13, 2015. This event likewise notably put Lakewood Ranch in the spotlight as a looming local epicenter for companies operating under the umbrella of the health care industry.

Showcases of innovation

Health Innovation Eyed as Economic Booster

One of the highlights of Health Innovation Week was the 2nd Annual BioFlorida BioTech Expo hosted by the Lakewood Ranch (LWR) campus of State College of Florida that primarily houses the school’s Medical Technology and Simulation Center. Cast on the limelight during the expo were the business and scientific innovations in the life sciences developed in the region.

Two companies already based in Lakewood Ranch were among the expo participants which held open houses during the Health Innovation Week. One of these is RPS Diagnostics, a company devoted to the development, manufacturing and marketing of point-of-care diagnostics. Another LWR-based firm is Lakewood-Amedex, a leading developer of novel anti-infective pharmaceuticals.

In a related development in November 2015, LWR developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. (SMR) announced plans for a 265-acre biomedical park possibly having over 4.2 million square feet of space for facilities in the next 10 to 20 years. SMR expressed hopes that these additional amenities and the region’s attractive lifestyle would convince major pharmaceutical companies and other related industry players to locate in the region.

Dynamic synergy brews

The SMR plan gaining traction could consequently help the two counties catalyze local health care sector into what industry pundits say is a synergistic “cluster” that would draw even more companies to locate in the region. Sarasota and Manatee now host over 100 innovative companies providing products and services to the health care industry.

These ventures include not only established manufacturers but also startups and companies supporting the health care industry. Some of these local companies have established themselves as leaders in health innovation.

Lakewood-Amedex, for instance, recently got approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin human testing for its topical drug for treating tough-to-heal feet ulcers of diabetic patients. RPS Diagnostics in Lakewood Ranch, which employs some 60 personnel, is further adding staff and space to its three 3,600-square-foot buildings for its production facility, product development lab, and sales and marketing.

Billion-dollar global market

Besides Lakewood-Amedex and RPS Diagnostics, the other companies which participated in the Health Innovation Week include Mote Marine Laboratory, BioLife, Voalte, Enzymedica and Roskamp Institute. These companies, which economic developers call as the health innovation core, currently have some 2,000 employees.

SMR’s plan for a biomedical park moving forward has tremendous potential both in creating more jobs and pump-priming the Sarasota-Manatee economy. In the biopharmacuetical industry alone, wherein the U.S. is one of the major global players, revenues have been estimated to grow to $200 billion worldwide by 2016.