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Making Wisconsin the biotechnology leader

Wisconsin has always been a center for innovation and discovery. From medicine to manufacturing, some of the world's most important advances were made right here in our state. Today, amid a revolution in biotechnology and medical research, Wisconsin has taken the lead.

From developing innovative new sources of renewable energy that will help our nation relieve its dependence on foreign oil to working to find cures to Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Juvenile Diabetes -- Wisconsin is pioneering solutions to the world's most pressing problems and creating the high-paying jobs of the future.

But this is no time to rest on our laurels. In November 2004, I announced a bold statewide strategy to marshal $750 million in public and private investment and make Wisconsin the nation's leader in biotechnology and stem cell research.

The cornerstone of this initiative was the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, an interdisciplinary research center on the campus of the UW-Madison that would collaborate directly with industry - turning innovative new discoveries into high-paying jobs. Last week, I joined with business and university leaders to launch the first phase of this ambitious project.

The institutes will be funded by a $50 million state investment, a $50 million private investment from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and a $50 million gift from University of Wisconsin alumni John and Tashia Morgridge - the largest individual gift in the history of the University.
Not only will these institutes lay the foundation for thousands of new jobs, they may well help unlock the cures to some of humanity's deadliest diseases, from Alzheimer's to Juvenile Diabetes.

Already, Wisconsin's biotech firms contribute about $6.9 billion to the state's economy and account for about 22,000 jobs in our state. But we have only begun to tap the vast potential of this industry.

This week, I am leading the largest Wisconsin delegation ever to the BIO 2006 convention in Chicago - where over 20,000 scientists, executives, and investors from more than 60 countries will gather. This marks the first time that the world's largest biotechnology conference will be held in the Midwest - and it will be our opportunity to show the world what's going on in Wisconsin.

We've built the Wisconsin Pavilion, over 1600 square feet of exhibition space, the largest exhibition space the state has ever had - to tell our story. I will be joined by many of Wisconsin's greatest minds of science and industry, including stem cell pioneers Dr. James Thomson and Dr. Gabriela Cesar and over 200 scientists and business leaders from across Wisconsin. We'll feature cutting edge Wisconsin businesses and highlight groundbreaking research at Wisconsin universities, the Biomedical Technology Alliance of Southeastern Wisconsin, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), and the Marshfield Clinic.

In Wisconsin, we are focused on attracting new investments, building the best new facilities, and converting our discoveries into new, high-paying jobs. Last year, the National Institutes of Health made Wisconsin home to the nation's first and only National Stem Cell Bank. We've broken ground on the construction of a new first-class research facility at the Medical College of Wisconsin. And last month I announced that Abbot – one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world – has purchased 500 acres in Kenosha County that could accommodate up to 12,000 employees.

Good things are happening in Wisconsin. We are emerging as a leader in biotechnology and stem cell research - but the best is yet to come.

Jim Doyle, a Democrat, is the governor of Wisconsin.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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