Last year we shared Greater Peoria’s efforts to position itself to be the next biomedical manufacturing hub in the country. This month we bring you updates about this growing industry. Our healthcare industry, recognized by Business Facilities as the 6th Best Mid-Sized Healthcare Hub, in the country, plus our comprehensive experience in manufacturing, research, and innovation, perfectly set us up for success in the biomedical and biotech industry.
Our region boasts of the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center of Bradley University, home to ten wet labs and ten dry labs for researchers, inventors, and entrepreneurs transforming new technologies and innovations into commercial enterprises. Peoria NEXT leverages the strengths of Caterpillar, the USDA National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Bradley University, and other health-science and technology organizations throughout the region to help startup companies mature into commercial successes. Tenants include startups in the fields of medical devices, mechanical engineering, molecular studies, biofuels, and information technology.
Veloxity Labs, one of Peoria NEXT’s newest tenants, was founded in 2021 as a contract research organization. Veloxity Labs provides high-tech laboratory services to pharmaceutical companies and other researchers who need specialized analysis of medical samples. The timing could not be more perfect with OSF Healthcare’s investment and advancement in cancer treatment. Research companies like Veloxity Labs will augment OSF and Illinois CancerCare‘s stellar work.
Another Peoria NEXT tenant is Midwest Bioprocessing Center, a pioneer in glycochemical bioprocess technology with a long-term mission to develop novel carbohydrate technology for human health and nutrition. The company’s strength is in developing proprietary technology for producing and modifying carbohydrates that would otherwise be impractical or impossible to make. By expanding the number of sugar building blocks and components available to the marketplace and the synthetic tools to utilize these new sugars in human health and nutrition applications, the Midwest Bioprocessing Center enables the discovery of breakthrough drugs and the cost-effective commercial production of many glycochemicals.
In addition to a robust healthcare system anchored by the University of Illinois College of Medicine and two great hospital systems in OSF Healthcare and UnityPoint Health, Greater Peoria is also the headquarters of Illinois CancerCare, one of the most extensive private oncology and hematology practices in Illinois and the entire nation. With 14 clinics across the state, Illinois CancerCare is a comprehensive practice treating patients with cancer and blood diseases. Their focus is on providing state-of-the-art treatments for patients in the fight against cancer and blood diseases while researching and innovating to stay on the leading edge of breakthrough cancer care and treatment. Illinois CancerCare was a pioneer in providing state-of-the-art cancer treatments, physicians, and nurses to patients right in their hometown communities.
Building on the engineering and manufacturing prowess of the region, Rheo Engineering is a material handling equipment provider that develops an extensive range of biotech material handling products and turnkey process systems for its customers. Rheo provides consultation, design, and building services to clients. The company also runs the Rheo Testing Center, a full service pharmaceutical room where they run a wide variety of processes for clients to evaluate process feasibility and verify the performance of process design.
VirtuSense, a successful startup that recently graduated from Peoria NEXT, develops AI technology and innovative sensors that accelerates predictive insights allowing physicians, caregivers, and families to be proactive and patient-centric. Their innovative technology can make healthcare simple, affordable, and accessible without compromising the quality of care. VirtuSense’s AI sensors detect movements and anomalies based on hours of normative data to alert healthcare providers 30 – 65 seconds before a bed/chair exit occurs. Virtusense’s work earned them the recognition of the 6th Most Innovative Medical Device Company in 2022 globally by Fast Company.
The BioTech industry is supported by the Jump Simulation (Jump Sim), the world’s largest medical simulation center Jump Sim, located at OSF St. Francis Hospital, is merging the most innovative minds in medicine with the most innovative technology. The scientists and clinicians at Jump Sim discern through research how healthcare processes can be improved and then change those processes to benefit the people they serve. In partnership with the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana, Jump Sim also offers biomedical-related engineering fellowships. Greater Peoria is also home to one of the nation’s largest foundations committed to funding research, prototyping, and deployment of biomedical engineering projects. Jump Applied Research through Community Health through Engineering and Simulation (ARCHES) is a partnership between Jump Simulation and Education Center at OSF HealthCare and HCESC in The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. It was established in 2014 by a $62.5 million gift to provide direct access and competitive grants to engineers and physicians working together to combat problems in the realm of healthcare.
We share this to let you know the progress we have made since our last communication about our biomedical industry. A year ago we started sowing the seeds to attract and promote businesses like the Veloxity and Midwest Bioprocessing Center to our region through our BioMade efforts and our labor is bearing fruits. We strongly believe we have all the ingredients to be the next biomedical manufacturing hub in the country and we would love to write about your business also locating here in our next update!