How the Greater Daytona Region is Making Medical Advances
Greater Daytona leverages education assets to create a growing life sciences sector.
Greater Daytona has earned a reputation as the gateway to Florida's Space Coast, but the region also makes a name for itself as a hub of life sciences and health care innovation.
For starters, occupations such as biomedical engineering and medical technology require some of the same knowledge and skills used in the aerospace industry. And Greater Daytona's outstanding quality of life and affordability are drawing talent.
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The region is also strategically located within an easy drive of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Johns Hopkins All Children's Outpatient Care in Tampa and the Cleveland Clinic in Fort Lauderdale, notes Mauricio Toro, co-founder and CEO of TECHFIT Digital Surgery, a medical equipment company in Daytona Beach.
"You can start research projects and work with thought leaders from these three institutions, which you can't do from any other location in the country," Toro says.
The proximity of higher education is a key benefit to the region's health care sector growth. Daytona State College offers career paths such as nursing, emergency services and dental sciences, among other health-related occupations. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University provides world-class training to meet increasing marketplace demands.
"The world has traditionally looked to the U.S. for cutting-edge science and development, and the health care sector is no different," says Karen Gaines, an Embry-Riddle professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "More and more, the health care community is looking to the aviation community for answers."
“We have no problem getting good employees. People want to live there.”
Bruce Heugel/ B. Braun Medical Inc., Senior Vice President and CFO
As a well-positioned go-to source for health care and life sciences training, Embry-Riddle offers programs in aerospace physiology, biomechanical engineering and human factors, such as patient safety, risk management and communication. By partnering with area hospital systems AdventHealth and Halifax Health-University of Florida Health, Gaines says students have the opportunity to work in clinical and research settings.
Building Better Care
"Being able to tap into that talent is a very smart way to accelerate all your product development initiatives and technologies that will impact health care," Toro says.
Launched as a spinoff of the Colombian surgical implant manufacturer Sampedro, TECHFIT expanded internationally to Greater Daytona in 2018 and set up shop at the MicaPlex incubator at Embry-Riddle's Research Park. This location and the region's dynamic health care sector have helped the company's development of custom implants for bone reconstruction.
"We're trying to be part of that ecosystem not only by offering our solutions and engineering in the health care sector, but also to showcase what Volusia County can do in terms of global device manufacturing," Toro says.
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The region's impressive life sciences portfolio also includes Command Medical Products, Medtronic and B. Braun Medical Inc., the world's oldest medical device manufacturer. The 180-year-old German-based company is known for its extensive product line, including medical devices, IV therapy, surgical instruments, and pharmaceuticals.
In 2018, B. Braun opened a 400,000-square-foot distribution center in Daytona Beach as part of a larger $400 million business investment in Volusia County. B. Braun plans to open its 50-acre state-of-the-art manufacturing campus in 2021, where it will make IV and therapy product solutions and employ up to 400 people by the end of the year.
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Bruce Heugel, the company's senior vice president and CFO, helped lead the location search for this manufacturing expansion. He says that Daytona Beach was an easy choice. The company received a warm welcome from local and state governments and civic and business leaders, as well. Daytona Beach's interstate and ocean port access are also critical benefits that affect freight costs and the supply chain.
"The most important quality in Greater Daytona was the ability to attract and retain skilled employees," Heugel says. "We have no problem getting good employees. People want to live there. It all makes for a good mix – good employees, good economics, close to our customers and a friendly business environment."
If you'd like to learn more about the Greater Daytona region, check out the latest edition of Greater Daytona Region/Volusia County.