Medical Main Street goes international

Oakland County’s Medical Main Street and the People’s Republic of China and its life science program, China Medical City, entered into a “Friendship City” relationship to explore opportunities for promoting and commercializing new products and technologies in life science, business, education, energy and the environment.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Shaomin Lan, secretary of the party, city of Taizhou, signed an agreement that links Medical Main Street – the county’s health care and life science initiative – with China Medical City to establish a framework of mutual support and cooperation. It is the first international connection established for Medical Main Street. The signing took place in the Oakland County Executive Office Building.

“Today I am very pleased that we are joining not only our great economies but creating a partnership between Oakland County’s Medical Main Street and China Medical City in Taizhou,” Patterson said. “This is the first global collaboration for the advancement of medical technology in Michigan and likely the first in both China and the U.S.”

Patterson said there are striking similarities between Oakland County and Taizhou as both realized the need to diversify the local economy. As Oakland County was dependent on the auto industry for decades, Taizhou – a city of more than five million people located a few hours from Shanghai – was a ship building center, producing 16 percent of all ships in China and six percent of ships globally.

The Chinese government is supporting the diversification effort, Lan said through an interpreter. He said Oakland County was identified as one of the top areas in the United States and he was confident he will be able to convince Chinese businesses to invest here.

“This will expand the reach of Medical Main Street and increase foreign investment here as well,” Patterson said. “I’m delighted to hear you say you will promote Oakland County for your companies and we will do the same here. It’s can’t be a one-way agreement.”

Lan said he was questioned as to the purpose of his trip to Oakland County at the U.S. consulate in Shanghai. He told the questioner he was meeting with county officials to promote a relationship with Medical Main Street and life science companies here.

“The man said, ‘I only know Oakland County is famous for automobile. I have never heard Oakland County is famous for life science,’” Lan said. “I told him, ‘I am proud to say I know better than you.’”

The agreement was signed in both English and Chinese. A group of about 15 other Chinese officials accompanied Lan. Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb has helped develop the relationship with Taizhou, having visited there several times on behalf of Oakland County. A medical business forum and dinner was planned later in Troy and sponsored by the Detroit Chinese Business Association. Presentations will be made on China Medical City and Chinese drug application policy.

Launched in 2008, Medical Main Street is branding the region as a global center of innovation in health care and the life sciences. It has helped 53 companies expand or locate in Oakland County, generating investment of more than $1 billion while creating or retaining more than 8,500 jobs.