David Wood is leading Donaldson's move to accelerate growth in medical and related applications in the new role of vice president for life sciences business development for the industrial filtration company.

Wood's appointment to Donaldson's senior-leadership team, announced in December, signals the company's intent to diversify and expand by adding a third market segment to go along with its to its engine and industrial businesses, Chief Executive Tod Carpenter said.

Potential life sciences opportunities for Donaldson range from individual scientists doing bench research to commercial production of biotech medicines, Wood said.

A life sciences industry veteran, Wood earned a doctoral degree in molecular biology but quickly moved to the business side of biopharma and life sciences. He most recently was vice president of corporate development at T2 Biosystems, a leading medical diagnostic products company.

"All of that together has brought me where I am today, which is having a real interest in drug discovery tools for manufacturing especially in biotechnology where the types of biotech medicines coming out are very difficult to manufacture," Wood said.

Wood's track record in mergers and acquisitions aligns with Donaldson's life sciences growth strategy, which includes possible inorganic growth, Carpenter said. Wood also has extensive experience in business, investment banking and equity research.

As Donaldson builds its life sciences business, it can leverage filtration technologies it has introduced recently to food and beverage manufacturers, Carpenter said. Its food and beverage business has seen double-digit growth for the last four years. In the past year, Donaldson has increased production of filters for the food and beverage industry and built a new facility to support expanding materials research, according to a release.

Q: What appealed to you about this opportunity at Donaldson?

Wood: When you look at Donaldson and their history, the legacy in the filtration space, it made a lot of sense. Getting introduced to Tod and other folks during the process of interviewing and making the decision to join, it's very clear that this was an absolute alignment, that this is something that we're going to do in a very meaningful way. To have a significant amount of resources to devote to this and having that legacy filtration business in other industries that we can leverage is very important.

Q: What are your priorities in business development?

Wood: Getting out and talking to other companies in this space, talking to other key stakeholders in life sciences and giving a sense of what we're doing and, hopefully, convey the passion and the desire to build this aggressively.

Q: How does the pandemic figure in to Donaldson's move into life sciences?

Wood: It's certainly brought to light the concept of vaccine manufacturing. When you think of vaccines, how those things are made, there are a lot of filtration steps in there. We've never had to manufacture things so quickly and at such a scale.

Carpenter: It's really more of a macro-based end market answer as it reflects to Donaldson and would there be an opportunity there for us to enter.

The pandemic certainly has maybe opened everybody's eyes to how good this end market can be. We think this has good alignment with overall who we are as a corporation, our corporate culture and what we think we can do with our corporate technology groups as well.

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.