After a decade as LifeScience Alley, Minnesota's trade group for medical technology is changing its name back to the Medical Alley Association as part of a larger revamp for the post-health care reform era.
"I think the term 'LifeScience' largely was a popular bubble 10 years ago. It has never caught on as being associated with anything other than this specific organization," said Shaye Mandle, who was promoted to CEO last year after joining the group as a lobbyist in 2011.
He and others point out that when the Smithsonian National Museum of American History honored Minnesota last year in its ongoing "Places of Innovation" exhibit, it referred to the cluster of med-tech companies and innovative doctors in the state by its traditional name, Medical Alley.
Changing the group's name back to the Medical Alley Association is part of a broader re-engineering of the group over the past year that has been driven by member input, said Marketing Vice President Tess Donahue, whose hiring last June was one of the changes.
During the "listening tour" over the past year, feedback from members showed strong interest in getting over Minnesota modesty and promoting the region in newsletters, e-mail blasts and data publications.
Members asked, "Why aren't we talking more? Why aren't we sharing ideas more? Why aren't we trying to drive policy? But also, why aren't we talking to hospital systems? Why aren't we sitting down to problem-solve around these dynamic changes in health care? Shouldn't [the association] be that center, that facilitator of conversations?" Mandle said.
The not-for-profit group's 675 member companies are being asked to pay higher dues, as the Medical Alley Association refocuses its efforts around lobbying, networking and publicizing industry intelligence that can raise the region's profile and influence. The dues changes are needed because the group will be doing fewer live events and conferences, which have brought in less revenue since the Great Recession.
On Monday, the group moved its headquarters, leaving St. Louis Park for a building near Theodore Wirth Park on Hwy. 55 in Golden Valley.
The 20-member board of directors has been growing in diversity, both in terms of the companies represented and the individuals serving on it.
The highest-paying member companies now get a seat on the board. Those $50,000 foundational members include Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific, Mayo Clinic, 3M and law firm Fredrikson & Byron. Another group of $25,000 donors will be called sustaining members.
Both foundational and sustaining memberships were introduced last year. Member Services Vice President Frank Jaskulke said other dues levels increased in 2015 to between $500 and $20,000, based on the annual revenue of the company. The specific dues aren't published because most of the membership consists of private companies that may not want to reveal their revenue.
Smiths Medical CEO Jeff McCaulley joined the board last year when his company became a sustaining member. He said the local community is in strong support of the Medical Alley Association's mission to bring global attention to the cluster of health care companies in the state.
"It's not just that we have this great med-tech community," McCaulley said, "but we have a really vibrant health care ecosystem that I think gives us the opportunity to create great data, great research, great intelligence, upon which to make the kinds of decisions that need to be made about where health care is going."
The group has long been organized as a 510(c) 6 not-for-profit corporation, which means it has more freedom to do lobbying and political activity than other kinds of charities.
Tax forms from 2013, the most recent year available, say the group raised $2.1 million in revenue and had $2.1 million in expenses. It raised $855,000 from membership dues and $853,000 from programs and special events that year.