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3 hospitals, UA and med school create BioInnovation Institute in Akron, a multimillion-dollar medical research program

Last 5 posts by Ed Morrison

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7 Responses to “Akron’s new BioInnovation Institute”

  1. Justin Balck Says:

    For a $200M investment, I don’t think getting research grants will yield any sustainable return. Federal grants are on the downswing even for established institutions much less a newcomer. Future state of Ohio funding is limited and may be less apt to continue to pour money into the NE section of the state.

    Whether spin off companies can make up the difference is in question given NEO’s past performance, the current investment climate and an unclear connection between the spin offs and BioInnovation.

  2. Ed Morrison Says:


    Given your predictions, it will be interesting to see how the voters respond in Kansas to this initiative:

  3. Justin Balck Says:

    The Kansas initiative can produce revenue through tuition and clinical trials fees. They are offering discrete “products” versus BioI.

    To paraphrase someone’s lament regarding the convention center: “Where’s the business plan? Where’s the analysis?”

  4. Ed Morrison Says:


    It seems to me that the Akron initiative is pretty well thought out…

    Another big distinction. The Akron initiative is investing in growing markets. The convention business is mature and very slow growth (if not declining).

    From the press reports:

    • The Orthopaedic Research Institute of Northeast Ohio — will study and develop products and treatments for bone and joint problems.

    • The Center for Health Care Training — will train medical students and professionals, emergency medical technicians, psychiatric social workers and others, using simulation, computer modeling and standard patients.

    • The Center for Clinical Trials — will collaborate on projects and bring the newest treatments to local patients, first focusing on orthopedics but eventually expanding to other areas.

    • The Medical Device Concept Laboratory — will focus on developing medical devices.

    • The Center for Biomaterials and Medicine — will pair the polymer expertise at the university with the skeletal biology, musculoskeletal medicine and orthopedics strengths at the medical school and hospitals. (The initial focus is orthopedics but will expand to other areas, such as healing wounds.)

  5. J Murray Says:

    Justin, the name of the game in developing technologies and spinoff companies is volume. Nobody can peer into the future and predict which, if any, of a portfolio of technologies and companies will be the big winners that produce wealth, jobs, and stable regional economies. Therefore, big ideas and big investments are required to prime the pump, especially in regions that missed the last couple of technology-enabled growth cycles.

    The private sector provides limited funding to earliest technology development, leaving this as the province of federal and, increasingly, state resources. When it comes to accessing federal and state grants, multi-institution collaboration and scale matter greatly in the competition with other regions of the country for federal money.

    This is a much better use of taxpayer resources than nearly everything else that government does, because it creates technologies, attracts the best-and-brightest, and primes the pump for the private sector to do what it does best.

  6. Justin Balck Says:

    I am temporarily blinded by having J Murray and Ed Morrison in agreement!

    All of these BioI assets are redundant in the region. In addition, everything except the Clinical Trial center is competing for the same declining pot of federal research funds. Hence the need for “bridge” funding by the local philanthropists. How can a return on the $200M be achieved in such a crowded and declining market?

    This money is not being used to prime the pump but add to existing infrastructure and multiple layers of administration.

  7. J Murray Says:

    Justin, without having drilled into the details, this doesn’t seem redundant to me. There is a nexus of expertise in polymers and orthopedics in the Akron area that isn’t replicated elsewhere, certainly not in Cleveland-area institutions. The Cleveland Clinic does have a good orthopedics group, but it doesn’t have polymers. I don’t think there is a focus on orthopedics and structural human engineering at the Case School of Biomedical Engineering.

    Yes, there is always an administrative rake-off in all of these, and any government program, and that’s annoying, but probably unavoidable. The research and technology themselves, though, seem to be additive to the region.

    More importantly, this region is competing nationally against other regions, and the size of regional and statewide commitments matters in attracting federal funding, talent, and companies.