Medical Devices Making Major Impact

With recognizable company names from Warsaw to Bloomington and spots in between, most people probably realize that Indiana is a player in the medical devices industry. A new study, though, reveals we might be a bigger player than many realized.

From Hearts to Hips: Indiana’s Leadership in Life Sciences was recently released by BioCrossroads. High economic output, exports and employee wages well above the state average are all part of the mix.

The medical devices industry is one of Indiana’s most valuable economic assets employing over 20,000 people and generating more than $10 billion of annual economic output. Today, the medical devices sector accounts for more than 40 percent of the jobs in the state’s life sciences industry, placing Indiana as the fifth largest state in percentage of medical technology industry employment.

And in 2010, Indiana’s medical device companies manufactured more than $2 billion worth of exports, or approximately $100,000 per employee. The industry provides high-paying jobs with the average employee earning $60,000 annually, more than 56 percent higher than the state’s average private sector worker.

“From small towns to larger cities, the economic impact of the medical devices industry is significant and is well-distributed throughout the state,” said David Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads. Major companies such as Biomet, Boston Scientific, Cook Medical, DePuy, Medtronic, Roche Diagnostics and Zimmer are either headquartered or maintain major operations within the state and develop a wide variety of medical devices for from cardiovascular to urological to diagnostics and orthopedics.

“This report is proof that Indiana’s medical devices sector is robust and resides on a solid foundation that positions us well for future growth,” added Johnson. “There are still many external factors like the economic, regulatory and health care reform environment that pose real challenges for this industry.”

The report delves into external challenges the industry faces today. In addition to the current economic conditions that have lowered the demand for some medical devices, the industry faces even bigger challenges to overcome in the next decade including:

  • A rapidly changing health care market

  • Tax policies that discourage innovation

  • Increasing regulatory uncertainty

  • A shift to overseas production and expansion to overseas markets

  • Technological changes requiring more worker education

  • Increasingly competitive global market.

Packing a Powerful Lineup

I received a visit in early 2008 from Terry McWilliams, founder of a Louisville area-based investor relations firm. After conducting a successful equity/investment conference in his home state, he was looking to bring the idea to Indiana. The initial event did take place that fall at the then recently opened Lucas Oil Stadium.

Terry and a team of supporters are back in 2010 with a strong list of Hoosier companies that are going to talk about their performance and their future plans. The primary audience: analysts, fund managers and institutional investors. And, as Terry explained in a recent e-mail, the people who can benefit the most are "those with companies that plan to go public, as they can witness the investor commuications process from a front row seat."

You can check out the details of the September 9 event (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this time around). It’s certainly a bit of a niche audience/event, but anytime you can get the likes of the following in one place to talk about their organizations, that’s a good thing — and an insight into our immediate and longer-term economic future from some executives who are at center stage of the battle.

Big names: Eli Lilly, Cummins, Steel Dynamics, NiSource, Zimmer, Hillenbrand, Interactive Intelligence, a variety of banks and more. Michael Oxley, co-author of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, will deliver a keynote presentation.