If technology and data was the last $1 trillion industry, data-driven advancement in biotechnology will be the next and West Michigan is positioned to take advantage, said former Hillary CLINTON innovation aide Alex ROSS.

Ross was a keynote speaker at the Grand Rapids Economic Club luncheon and drew on his experience as former senior innovation aide to Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Ross said the data collected mapping the human genome over the last 15 years will likely be used next to conduct “liquid biopsies”—an early cancer detection test–and pharmaceutical therapies tailored to a patient’s specific genetic needs.

“In five years, 95 percent of the hands in this room will go up,” Ross said about liquid biopsies. Right now the procedure is too cost-prohibitive, but that cost is likely to plummet Ross said. Today, the procedure costs $3,000, but 13 months ago it cost $14,000 Ross said.

The way the pharmaceuticals will also change. Ross said he believes that doctors will begin to “develop therapies and treatments not generically designed to treat an illness, but designed around an individuals genetics.”

Ross said the barriers to new bio-science therapies is “principally regulatory” as it takes “billions in FDA

[Food and Drug Administrations] drug trials” to get a new drug to market. Ross encouraged business leaders to begin developing a research agenda at the state and local level to signal to investors that Michigan is friendly territory.

Ross also said Michigan business leaders should be on the lookout for new opportunities in autonomous vehicle technology–dovetailing nicely with Michigan’s advanced manufacturing industry-and advancements in agriculture.