Akron's Biomedical Corridor Brings Jobs, Growth
Biomaterials is big business in Akron. Recognized globally for innovation in polymers, materials science and medical research, the city is taking its position one step further with the development of the Akron Biomedical Corridor.
"The idea for the corridor was the result of a trade mission trip to Israel, when representatives from area hospitals and I discussed the strength we would have working together," says Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, who proposed the corridor concept in 2006. "I saw the property between the hospitals and knew we could be successful by filling in the gaps with medical companies."
Austen BioInnovation Institute
At the heart of the corridor is the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA), tasked with using the city's materials science and medical expertise to create solutions for people dealing with orthopaedic and wound-healing problems. The Institute is the result of an alliance of Akron Children's Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, Summa Health System, The University of Akron, and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
"This unique collaboration is leading the charge to pioneer the next generation of life-enhancing and life-saving innovation that will transform Akron into a model for biomedical discovery and enterprise," says Dr. Frank Douglas, president and chief executive officer of ABIA.
The Institute is comprised of four interrelated centers: biomaterials, medical devices, health care simulation and education, and clinical trials and community health. Each maintains a focus on accelerating biomedical commercialization and improving access, education, prevention, treatment and disease management.
In 2011, ABIA will move to a $10 million, 40,000-square-foot facility at the corner of Main Street and Perkins Avenue. Douglas says the hallmark of the facility will be the ABIA Center for Simulation and Integrated Health Care Education — a state-of-the-art health care training facility that will offer novel team-based, patient-centered simulation programs.
"The Institute is uniquely positioned to meld the region's traditional strengths in research, education and world-class health care," says William H. Considine, chairman of ABIA and president and CEO of Akron Children's Hospital.
"Our vision of making Akron a leader in the biomaterials field is absolutely attainable, given Akron's intellectual, educational, research and commercial strengths."
A hub of innovation and opportunity
Innovation is nothing new to Akron. Doctors at Akron Children's Hospital were the first to utilize artificial skin for burn victims, while the University of Akron's College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering continually investigates new ways to utilize polymers in medicine.
It's no surprise that, in 2010, Akron was designated an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity. The city is also one of only six places in the nation to win the U.S. Commerce Department's i6 Innovation Challenge to fund efforts to accelerate innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization. Early-stage companies also receive assistance from programs such as the Akron Global Business Accelerator — a partnership of the City of Akron, The Akron Development Corporation, the University of Akron and the State of Ohio. The program provides promising start-ups work space for offices, manufacturing, assembling and laboratories.
"We want to provide incentives to encourage companies to locate to the corridor," says Bob Bowman, Akron deputy mayor and chair of the Akron Development Corporation. "Akron provides a unique opportunity for biomedical companies, both global and domestic."