The World Trade Center of Buffalo Niagara (WTCBN), a local not-for-profit international business development organization helping to facilitate regional growth through global trade, has received nearly $682,000 to help increase medical device trade between Western New York (WNY) manufacturers and China. In that pot of money is $218,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Through a program that will be administered over a three-year time period, WTCBN and partners that work with medical device companies will enhance trade relations knowledge to place devices in one of the largest populace nations in the world. Partners include the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, The Buffalo Niagara Partnership, MedTech, the Jacobs Institute and the Department of Commerce, in addition to others who assist and house medical device companies.
“This three-year project will serve as a template for a greater regional export strategy,” said Chris Johnston, president of WTCBN. Johnston also stated that it will be “a great opportunity for collaboration among various groups, including the federal, state and regional government, with local organizations such as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, UB and World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, which will maximize the benefits for Western New York companies.”
The Accelerating Upstate New York’s Competitiveness and Exports in the Global Economy program will offer training and expertise to least 40 local manufacturers, teaching them how to navigate Chinese import laws, how to effectively market their products in China and the logistics of shipping goods there. They will also provide access to export loans and credit insurance. An estimated $25 million could come from Chinese contracts over a four-year period, leading to the creation of hundreds of jobs in this area.
At a roundtable discussion moderated by Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, New York’s 26th Congressional District Representative, companies had the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback on how to identify and capitalize on new medical device markets, and to learn more about the program. Congresswoman Hochul said the program is “a critical step toward opening new markets, fostering innovation, and expanding manufacturing right here at home. Meaningful investment in Western New York’s medical device industry and work force will help add good-paying, sustainable jobs to our local economy.” The discussion served as an indicator of the collaboration and knowledge-sharing between experts and companies that is soon to come.
Congresswoman Hochul also said “It is vital that we continue to work to ensure our local businesses have the resources necessary to expand and reach new global markets.” With over $1.9 trillion in exportation of goods and services in 2011, China is currently the largest exporting country in the world. Efforts to increase the importation of medical devices made from the U.S., more so in the WNY region to China, will undeniably generate revenue increases for many local companies.
The U.S. Commerce Secretary, Rebecca Blank, stated that “The awards given by the Commerce Department’s Market Development Cooperator Program will help us continue to make progress toward achieving the President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014. Higher exports lead to more jobs: in 2011, jobs supported by exports increased by 1.2 million over 2009.”
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.’s COO, Patrick J. Whalen stated that “the Department of Commerce grant will showcase the assets in Western New York to medical device companies around the world, and we look forward to working together to help existing companies succeed and grow.”
While WNY is home to nearly 250 medical equipment manufacturers and medical research centers, WTCBN reports that an overwhelming majority of the companies export their goods to the one country it is closest to which is Canada. Past innovations from the region include the implantable pacemaker, the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test, photodynamic therapy (used to treat malignant cancers), and multiple sclerosis therapy.
The inaugural session of the 2012-13 Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series will present an opportunity for local companies to learn more about the program. The session will take place on Thursday, September 27 from 4-5 p.m. at the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences located at 701 Ellicott Street. For more information and to register for the event, click here.