Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Unveils Life Sciences Strategic Plan

Press Release Date:  Thursday, August 11, 2005  
Contact Information:  Carla Blanton
Michael Goins
Jodi Whitaker
502-564-2611
 


“Potential for growth… is simply staggering”  

FRANKFORT, Ky. —  A strategic plan calling for  Kentucky to become a world leader in the research, development and marketing of life science and bioscience innovations that will produce a new economic engine for the state is being unveiled by Governor Ernie Fletcher today.

The 19-member Governor’s Life Science Consortium, a group of state experts from science, business, government and education assembled by Governor Fletcher last year, details the steps necessary to bring Kentucky to the forefront of emerging scientific fields in a 20-page report made available to the public at www.kentucky.gov.

“I am delighted and encouraged by the work of these dedicated individuals,” said Governor Fletcher. “Just a year ago, I asked this group to prepare a plan for the next decade and beyond. I look forward to reviewing their recommendations and determining how best to proceed.”

The four life science and bioscience areas identified in the action plan are natural products, medical devices, health technology services and niche pharmaceuticals/niche biotechnology. 

The report notes that Kentucky is considered to be an emerging novice state in the life science area, particularly with respect to the commercialization of research by the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Both institutions have made impressive gains in attracting federal research funding and potential patentable inventions.

In addition, the presence of United Parcel Service (UPS) in Louisville means that Kentucky does not have to set up or lure a worldwide delivery company to ship these time-sensitive medical devices around the world quickly.

“The potential growth of these areas is simply staggering,” Governor Fletcher said. “Between 1992 and 2003, the U.S. revenues for the biotechnology area alone grew from $8 billion to $39 billion, an increase of nearly five times. With the proper utilization of our existing strengths, we can significantly improve Kentucky’s participation in the life science industry.”  

The life science industry consists of several different sectors that include pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, biotechnology, medical devices, bio and health informatics, as well as services related to these sectors.

“Over time, these mostly unfamiliar life science and biotechnology terms will become as much a part of our image and vocabulary in Kentucky as bluegrass, thoroughbreds and basketball,” Governor Fletcher said. “We’ve done it in the automobile industry, so there’s no reason why we can’t become leaders in this field as well.”

Following are four areas outlined by the consortium and a few of the businesses and universities that are successful in these fields.

·        Natural Products - If a compound or product is produced in nature by a plant, animal or micro-organism it is considered a natural product. Existing assets in the state include the Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center in Lexington, Large Scale Biology Corp. in Owensboro, Alltech in Nicholasville, and Martek in Winchester.

·        Medical Devices -  Examples of medical devices can range from simple catheters to sophisticated electronic devices implanted during surgical procedures. The consortium identified engineering programs at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital in Louisville as well as UPS as potential key participants in this growing sector.

·        Health Technology Services - This area of life sciences includes bioinformatics, biologistics, diagnostics and other services involving the application of technology to life sciences.  Kentucky’s current assets in this sector include Advanced Imaging Concepts, Humana in Louisville, and UPS.

·        Niche Pharmaceuticals/Niche Biotechnology - Unlike areas of biotechnology or pharmaceuticals that require massive corporate involvement, this sector focuses on narrow, specialty activities, such as formulation and niche manufacturing. The prestigious School of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky, ranked eighth nationally, and companies such as Xanodyne and Pediamed have considerable involvement in specialty pharmaceutical activities.

Eleven specific recommendations have been presented to Governor Fletcher by the consortium. One major recommendation calls for the establishment of a “seed fund” to target investing in life science start-up companies. The report indicates that Oklahoma, Arkansas and West Virginia have created such funds in recent years. Another recommendation calls for a “Brains for Business” program to unite strengths of business entrepreneur with innovative researchers to market new products and services. 

Members of the consortium included: Dr.Wendy Baldwin, Dr. Keith W. Bird, James Clifton, Dr. Maelor Davies, Eric Davis, Alex Day, Steve Downey, State Representative Jim Gooch Jr., Roger D. Griggs, John R. Hall, Dr. Allyson Hughes Handley, State Senator Ernie Harris, State Representative Thomas R. Kerr, Bill Lear, Dr. Nancy C. Martin, Billy Joe Miles, Keith Rogers, Robert S. Saunders and State Senator Johnny Ray Turner.