Medical Innovation and the Rebirth of Cities

Medical innovation leading an industrial renaissance

By Toby Cosgrove, MD

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Medical innovation is not only transforming American healthcare; it’s also transforming regional economies. As medical centers and universities spin off new products and companies based on their intellectual property, these new businesses cluster around the organizations that gave them birth.

The benefits of this process extend well beyond the traditional technology hubs of the east and west coasts, to the states and cities in between. Medical innovation is leading an industrial renaissance that has the potential to revitalize cities, create jobs and improve patient care across the board.

Northeast Ohio is a good example. For 100 years, we enjoyed tremendous success making and fabricating metal. Cleveland was second only to Detroit as a manufacturer of auto parts. The wealth created by these economic drivers left us with a medical, educational and community infrastructure that would be the envy of many larger cities. Today, the people of Northeast Ohio are leveraging its hospitals, research universities and quality of life to develop new economic drivers – particularly in the biomedical field.

Healthcare and higher education come together in Northeast Ohio

Regions grow by producing products for export outside the region and by creating new jobs. Northeast Ohio’s medical centers and universities attract patients and students from across the nation and around the world. Healthcare alone employs more than 81,000 local people, paying $4.5 billion in income. Northeast Ohio’s institutions of higher education have an almost $6 billion impact on the regional economy.

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But the most exciting space, in my opinion, is where healthcare and higher education come together.

Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), for instance, have formed a partnership to build a new Health Education Campus to revolutionize medical education. This information-age endeavor will integrate traditional medical school students with dental, nursing and allied health trainees in state-of-facilities to promote collaboration, teamwork and the cross-fertilization of ideas. Group study will be encouraged in multimedia classrooms and high-tech simulation labs. Eventually, we hope the seven-acre site will become the center of a vibrant, international medical student village between the Cleveland Clinic and CWRU campuses.

Transforming local economies with medical innovation

Together and separately, Northeast Ohio’s medical centers and universities are generating new companies based on their intellectual property and attracting major players into the region. Cleveland Clinic’s fast-growing big data spinoff Explorys was recently acquired by no less than IBM. And last month, IBM announced that it was planning to build a new office building adjacent to the Cleveland Clinic campus to house Explorys and anchor its powerful Watson Health division.

Northeast Ohio is now home to over 700 biomedical companies and counting. Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the commercialization arm of Cleveland Clinic, continues to spin off new ventures that are employing residents, retaining student, and fostering entrepreneurial spirit throughout the city. Investors are noticing. Over $2 billion in growth capital has been raised in the last 10+ years for Northeast Ohio companies, resulting in more than 56 exits in the same period.

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Transformation – in all its manifestations – is the theme of Cleveland Clinic’s 14th annual Medical Innovation Summit, to be held October 24-26 in downtown Cleveland. I invite you to join us at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland to network with CEOs, thought leaders, investors and entrepreneurs to discuss the latest technologies that will transform our industry. While you’re here, we hope you will explore Cleveland and visit our campus. Witness this historic transformation in action.

Dr. Cosgrove is CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic.