Economic Leaders Focus on Medical Innovation



A focus on medical and health innovation efforts on the Gulf Coast could raise awareness of existing assets and possibilities for companies in the future interested in the field. Health Innovation Week will spotlight efforts from businesses suchas Voalte and Enzymedica. The event runs Nov. 9-13. “We have a lot of different companies and health care providers who play an important role in the economy, but nobody has tried to pull them together and showcase what they are doing,” said Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Mark Huey, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, said the idea has been greeted with enthusiasm so far, with some 30 to 35 companies expressing interest from when the idea of a health innovation event was first brought up by the EDC. And when officials realized two important events, a BioTech Expo to be held at State College of Florida on Nov. 12 and a Voalte User Experience Conference from Nov. 10-12, gave the opportunity to build an entire week around the sector. And because so many similar companies are succeeding in Manatee County, Huey said the Sarasota EDC was able to join with the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation to make a regional event. “We are always looking for chances to work together, but we have never committed to doing anything as substantive as this,” Huey said of the work with the Bradenton EDC.

Health Innovation has been identified as a long-term focus for the Bradenton EDC, and the Health Innovation Week allows the Sarasota EDC the chance to gauge interest in the sector as the organization re-evaluates its own long-term plan, Huey said. And Pritchett noted that efforts like the Big Ideas on the Gulf Coast initiative have already identified health innovation as one of the economic areas with the most potential for growth in the region. The Health Innovation Week will expose the public to some of the existing companies. 

The overall goal of the event will be to tell the story of the region’s emergence as a center for health innovation, something that could bolster the reputation of companies exploring that field and also attract more companies to the area who could add resources to the growing sector. The week will include open house events at a minimum 18 companies. And on Nov. 13, a half dozen downtown restaurants will host public events with some of the major regional players in the health innovation industry. Long-term, Huey said, the companies will be able to point to web resources being generated through the event as a way to prove the firms’ credibility when dealing with health care companies outside the area, and the same resources could also show companies considering moving or opening in this region that resources exist to ensure success.

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