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Gov. Gregoire promotes Washington’s life sciences, technology sectors in India, helps open new eye center

For Immediate Release: October 3, 2012

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today, continuing her 10-day trade mission, joined Seattle-based global health organization SightLife to help open a new corneal tissue cutting center at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India. SightLife, the world’s leading eye bank, received a substantial financial donation from an anonymous Washington state company and several other gifts to help establish the center, which will provide advanced eye surgeries for thousands of Indian men, women and children each year.

“This generous contribution to critical public health services in India is a shining example of Washington’s strong tradition of philanthropy,” Gregoire said. “SightLife is a leader in global health and life sciences and, together with their international partners, they are making a vital difference for people in need worldwide. Some of these kids were facing a lifetime of treatable blindness, and this center truly represents the gift of sight for thousands of patients for years to come.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, Gregoire met with corneal transplant physicians, and delivered Seattle Sounders soccer balls and scarves to some of the youngest patients at the center.

“These grants enabled us to partner with The Ramayamma International Eye Bank to dramatically improve tissue quality and allow more donated eye tissue to be used,” said Manoj Gulati, SightLife, country director for India. “The surgery outcomes will also be better – increasing the number of people whose sight can be restored across India. Helping the blind to see can have a major impact not only on those cured, but on their families and the economic health of the communities where they reside.”

Gregoire today also toured one of the largest information technology parks in India, the Hyderabad Information Technology and Engineering Consultancy City (HITEC City). Spread over 151 acres, HITEC City offers world class IT infrastructure under one roof to companies operating in the field of IT services, IT enabled services, telecom, engineering and related domains. While at HITEC City, Gregoire met with executives of Infotech, a leading provider of engineering and product development solutions worldwide. The firm has 1,100 employees in the United States and operates a campus in Everett, WA.

Mission delegates representing Washington’s life sciences sector including executives of Atossa, SightLife, Cascade Designs and Pacific Biomarkers visited Genome Valley, a biopharmaceutical and high-technology business district in Hyderabad, where they conducted a series of meetings with business and government leaders. More than 100 companies are located in this center for life science research, training and manufacturing.

“Washington’s life sciences sector is one of Washington’s largest and fastest growing job sectors, with a presence in nearly 70 different cities statewide, adding $10.4 billion to our state’s GDP and $6.6 billion in personal income to our local economy,” said Chris Rivera, president of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association. “This trade mission should provide an opportunity for our companies and research organizations to make inroads into some of the world’s fastest growing health care markets, which are also investing billions of dollars into biotech and biomedical research, development and commercialization.”

Today, the agriculture delegation of Washington fruit and potato exporters explored connections with possible buyers, including the large retail chains Q-Mart and Heritage Retail and a major importer of frozen foods, Purple Seagull. While apple shipments to India have doubled in the last year to 4 million boxes, India is not yet a large market for Washington potatoes. The Washington Potato Commission will be working with retailers and importers to solve the logistics challenges that pose a barrier to entering the market in a substantial way.

Gregoire and the delegation finished the day with a reception celebrating a new cooperative relationship with the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The governor and the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy, pledged to work together on developing trade and investment opportunities between our two states. After the governor and the chief minister signed the agreement to formalize their cooperation, Gregoire presented new Amazon Kindles to the senior leaders of the Andhra Pradesh government.

Tomorrow, Gregoire will travel to Delhi to meet with senior government officials and will speak to a group of Indian industry leaders at a roundtable promoting business development and direct investment opportunities that will spur economic growth and jobs in Washington.

Visit Gregoire’s online travel journal that includes travel notes from the governor and the rest of the delegation, the itinerary and photos of the trade mission. Access the travel journal by following the link on her homepage: www.governor.wa.gov.