WisBusiness: Biotech Could Be $10 Billion Industry in Wisconsin

By Brian E. Clark

MADISON – The Wisconsin biotechnology and medical device industry, which
already produces $7 billion in annual sales, is poised to grow in 2006.

And by 2015, it could be a $10 billion industry in the state, top
industry and government officials have predicted.

“We have the critical mass to get serious about this sector of our
economy,” Jim Leonhart, a biotech executive said Tuesday at a Wisconsin
Innovation Network luncheon.

“We don’t have any option but to promote life science technologies,
including stem cell research here in this state,” added Leonhart, who
heads the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association.

Leonhart praised a recent decision by the State of Wisconsin Investment
Board to pump $50 million into start-up companies.

He also lauded Gov. Jim Doyle for his promotion of stem cell research and
the biotech industry in his State of the State speech last week.

And Leonhart said there is cause to celebrate recent news reports about
Madison biotech companies raising more than $30 million in venture
capital for expansion and growth.

Leonhart said his group has plans to work high school students to
encourage them to “dream big and use their creativity.

“We want them to go to college in Wisconsin and study the arts and
sciences and then stay here in this state and start new companies,” he

Leonhart told the luncheon his organization will have a major presence at
the upcoming BIO 2006 conference. It will run from April 9-12 in Chicago
and attract more than 20,000 scientists and investors from around the

Leonhart said the gathering will include at least eight seminars on stem
cell research and potential breakthroughs for treatment of diseases and

He said Wisconsin will have a $290,000 budget to promote its biotech
industries, technology transfer efforts and research coming out of
UW-Madison and other universities.

“We’ll be doing this in a first-class way,” he said. “It is time for us
to step up into the major leagues.”