Posted: Feb. 24, 2007
There is every reason to be excited about the expansion of biomedical business in the metro Milwaukee area. But it isn't the only horse we should be betting on.
The region now has 10,800 jobs in that sector, led by GE Healthcare with 6,800. Most of the 68 biomedical firms identified in a recent Milwaukee 7 survey are new and small, but optimistic.
To some extent, big parts of the health care cluster can be looked at as part of the biomedical picture. Health care has passed the $2 trillion mark in the country, pushing toward 20% of Gross Domestic Product, making it the No. 1 industry in America.
Mike Bolger, president and chief executive of the Medical College of Wisconsin, points out that health care represents 8% of Wisconsin jobs and will increase its employment by 30% by 2012. Over the next 25 years, from 30% to 40% of all new jobs will be in health care, he said.
A recent article in Health Affairs predicts annual health care growth over the next decade at 6.9%, meaning $4 trillion in volume by 2016.
So, while the emerging biomedical cluster does not yet have critical mass in the metro area, if you link it to health care in general, it merits being a strategic bet for the region.
And that is what is happening. A bonafide biomedical cluster is taking shape. Four universities have added degrees in biomedical disciplines and medical informatics. And more academic muscle is being built.