A business development team from Oakland County’s Medical Main Street is spending the week in the United Kingdom and Ireland selling medical device and life science companies on the benefits of expanding their operations into Oakland County.
Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb and business development representative John Wolf-Meyer are meeting with nine Ireland-based companies on Thursday and Friday, making the business case for locating in Oakland County. Gibb and Wolf-Meyer are also accompanying state officials, including Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, in business attraction meetings with automotive and aerospace companies during the week.
“Medical Main Street has matured to the point that it’s opening doors around the globe,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “We have a waiting list of companies wanting to meet with us in Ireland. It’s an international recognition of the approach we’ve taken to assisting companies who want to expand into Oakland County. This proves the strength of Medical Main Street.”
Ireland is fertile ground for the medical device and diagnostic manufacturing industry as 20 of the world’s top 30 medical technology companies have significant operations in Ireland, according to the state of Michigan. The sector is the second largest exporter of medical devices in Europe and accounts for eight percent of the total, with most of the manufactured products destined for the United States and other foreign markets. The industry employs 25,000 people.
More than 100 companies are involved in developing, manufacturing and marketing a diverse range of products. Thirty-three percent of the world’s contact lenses and 50 percent of the ventilators worldwide are manufactured in Ireland and 30 million people rely on injectable devices made there, according to state statistics.
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.
Medical Main Street is also taking on an increasing international flavor. In May, Patterson signed a “Friendship City” relationship with the People’s Republic of China and its life science program, China Medical City, to explore opportunities for promoting and commercializing new products and technologies in life science, business, education, energy and the environment.
The county itself has gained national attention because of its foreign business footprint. More than 1,050 foreign-owned companies from 39 countries have business locations in the county. Foreign Direct Investment in the county (investment from a company headquartered outside the U.S.) for 2015 totaled about $357 million – more than double the $171 million from 2014 – and accounted for about 43 percent of the county’s total private business investment of nearly $835 million, said Economic Development & Community Affairs Director Irene Spanos, .
Through the first five months of 2016, 23 international companies from 11 countries either located or expanded in Oakland County, investing more than $144 million and creating over 1,000 jobs, Spanos said. The countries are Germany (seven companies), Japan (4), China (3), Italy (2) and one company each from Australia, India, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, and Switzerland.
In October, a team from Medical Main Street will be attending the Innovation Summit at the Cleveland Clinic, which focuses on the next wave of growth in the industry and the best practices for commercialization, Spanos said.