WMU Home > About WMU > WMU News

WMU News

Granholm visits WMU to help open new Kalexsyn facility

Nov. 21, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Gov. Jennifer Granholm joined Western Michigan University and local economic development officials Nov. 16 to celebrate the completion of a new home for life science startup Kalexsyn at the University's Business Technology and Research Park.

Granholm lauded what she called "a partnership of hope" created by WMU, Southwest Michigan First, the state, city and county, following a decision by Pfizer in 2003 to move some of its research operations out of Kalamazoo. She noted that Kalexsyn is one of 18 life science businesses that were started in the area following the Pfizer decision.

"Ann Arbor is trying to replicate what you have done," she said. "This is a model that can be replicated throughout the state. This is an example of how Michigan can rise from extremely challenging economic circumstances. It is time for this state to get to drink a bit of the Kalamazoo water."

Started in 2003, Kalexsyn was founded by long-time Pharmacia/Pfizer scientists David Zimmermann and Dr. Robert Gadwood. Their company is a contract research organization of experienced medicinal chemists who work with pharma and biotech clients worldwide to expedite the development of new discoveries.

"Today we are thrilled to cut the ribbon and move into our new facility," said Zimmermann, who is the company's chief executive officer. Gadwood, president and chief scientific officer, said having their vision become a reality so quickly was the result of the dedication and hard work of staff members who made a commitment to the fledgling company and helped it grow. The company now has a staff of 15 research scientists and a total employee roster of 24.

The company was established using laboratory space in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, also located at the BTR Park. Kalexsyn is the third company to graduate from the innovation center, which is operated by economic development agency Southwest Michigan First, and it's the first graduate to build its own new facility at the BTR Park.

"Kalexsyn is a wonderful example of the kind of economic development WMU had in mind when it launched the Business Technology and Research Park seven years ago," said WMU President John M. Dunn, who noted the risks Kalexsyn founders took. " They took enormous personal and professional risks. They didn't just dream about what the future could be. They created a future for themselves and for their employees and for this community."

Rockford Development of Grand Rapids built the 20,000 square foot building which houses laboratories and technology systems that meet the specialized requirements of Kalexsyn's medicinal chemistry operations. This facility will allow the firm to increase its staff to 32 scientists. Total staff will increase to around 40.

"This is just another example of how partnerships benefit the whole community," said Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First. "Through the partnerships of Southwest Michigan First, Western Michigan University and the City of Kalamazoo the WMU BTR Park was created. Through the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and community support came the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center. Kalexsyn was one of the first to move in and the first to graduate. Their decision to stay in Kalamazoo shows the partnership they have developed with our community and that's something to celebrate."

The University's Business Technology and Research Park boasts partnerships with more than two dozen private sector companies focused on the life sciences, information technology and advanced engineering. The137-acre park, which was developed by the University in partnership with the city of Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan First, was designated by the state in 2001 as the Kalamazoo SmartZone, a high-tech economic development site. The park is part of WMU's Parkview Campus, which also is home to its College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400