Breaking Down the Research Efforts

Research corridors are not new. In our neighbor to the north, the University Research Corridor has been a strong performer over a number of years.

The State Science & Technology Institute has this brief recap of a recent analysis:

Michigan’s University Research Corridor, an alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, conducted $1.2 billion in academic R&D in the life, medical and health sciences, and served as a stabilizing force to the state’s economy as one of the only sectors that grew during the 2000s. Those are among the findings of the 2017 URC sector report, which was prepared by Public Sector Consultants.

The report, Leading Discovery: URC Contributions to the Life, Medical and Health Sciences, notes that employment in the life, medical and health sciences sector, which accounts for one in eight jobs in Michigan, is up 18.9 percent since 2000, compared to overall Michigan employment, which is down 9.3 percent.

The URC also was successful in moving discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace. From 2012 to 2016, the following results relating to the life, medical and health sciences sector were found:

• 1,348 inventions reported by researchers
• 380 U.S. patents issued
• 433 new license agreements
• 32 new startup companies
• $142 million in royalties earned

Noblesville’s RMI Expanding Business, Adding Talent

Historically, RMI in Noblesville has focused on orthopedic solutions for spinal surgeries, as well as hip and knee replacements. It’s had quite a bit of success in this industry, but RMI leadership now sees an opportunity to expand its focus.

"More recently, we’ve been looking for opportunities for growth in the non-medical field," President James Evans explains. "So we’re in the process of getting our aerospace certification."

Evans relays that expansion is one of the key reasons the company moved to Noblesville from Rochester in fall 2011. He explains the move gave the company more access to talent, and provided a more central location and close proximity to customers. While quite an undertaking, 19 of RMI’s Rochester staffers made the move south with the company, which currently has 25 employees (although that number will grow to 28 in the near future and well beyond once it expands into aerospace).

"We build low volume precision components out of exotic materials for the medical industry," Evans clarifies. "It’s a natural outgrowth opportunity to build products for other markets. Aerospace (and government, high-reliability military and aviation industries) all have requirements for the kind of capability that we have. Fairly high value componentry and assemblies are what we specialize in. In the spinal parts we build, the cervical plates, the hooks, the rods, the screws, which are mainly out of titanium and stainless steel and exotic plastics — we could really apply those to other markets."

Evans adds that the company has worked to evolve from just a component supplier and has expanded into full assemblies, which now comprise 40% to 50% of its business.

"When you start adding components together as part of an assembly, you have all of the interferences and system-level issues that you uncover," he notes. "And frankly, most of our competitors don’t want that hassle — so we look for more of those opportunities and that separates us from the competition."

He adds that the company now focuses on getting products to market faster by increasing engineering staff and adding equipment, which has helped build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Evans remarks that RMI now serves more second tier developers.

"In 2005, most of our business was with large OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), and we had very little flexibility in defining the manufacturing of these products," he says. "We had little say in product improvements, and now we’re with customers who are competitive with large OEMs; they’re design houses and they’re working with orthopedic groups. … they look to us for manufacturing solutions."

Challenges still face Hoosier companies in the medical device industry.

"With people out of work, they don’t have insurance and put off having surgeries," Evans offers. "People are also doing tigher inventory controls, so purchasing habits have changed and so we don’t get as many large orders as we used to get. And of course Obamacare has had its own set of challenges, as well as the medical device tax — those things will affect the marketplace."

When asked about Indiana’s pipeline of talent for his industry, Evans explains central Indiana provides more access to talent, but he believes the state has room for improvement.

"The people who actually run our machinery, they need to be trained machinists and need to know a lot about metallurgy and inspection processes, and we have to train every one of them that comes in here," he asserts. "So there’s always a talent gap."

Would you like to know more about RMI or its products? Reach out to Evans at [email protected].

Doctors Not Excited About Affordable Care Act

Ask the professionals in the middle of federal health care reform their opinions about the future impacts and the answers are downright scary. In a new survey, doctors fear both short-term and long-term declines in the quality of care, while costs will only continue to increase. The National Center for Policy Analysis concludes:

America’s doctors have conducted a full examination of the president’s health reform law, assessing it in a number of variables, and have concluded that it will fail to live up to many expectations and will aggregately hurt consumers in the short and long runs.  Few people know more about the health care system than doctors working on the frontlines.

Policymakers should pay heed to their indictment of the Affordable Care Act and revisit the disastrous law, says Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute.

• Nearly two-thirds of doctors expect the quality of care in this country to decline, according to a new survey from Deloitte.
• Nearly seven of every 10 doctors believe that medicine is no longer attractive to America’s "best and brightest."
• Seventy percent of doctors believe that long wait times will plague emergency rooms.
• Further, 83 percent of physicians foresee increased wait times for primary care appointments.

And doctors did not stop at criticizing the quality of care that health reform will deliver — they also addressed its likely impacts on the cost of health care.

• While Obama pledged $2,500 in health insurance savings for the typical American family, 90 percent of doctors believe that insurers will raise premiums for employers and individuals.
• This argument is supported by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimates that premiums will actually rise for families in the non-group market by about $2,100.
• Richard Foster, the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, concluded that American spending on health care through 2019 will be $311 billion higher than if the law had never passed.

Many of these results stem from two large impacts of the law: shutting down health care facilities and sharply increasing demand as it extends coverage to millions of people.  Doctors respond to this latter "benefit" by pointing out that coverage counts for little if patients are unable to see doctors due to increased demand.