INDIANAPOLIS – Hundreds of business and government leaders from around the world have gathered in Indianapolis for the inaugural Indiana Global Economic Summit. On Friday, leaders from Eli Lilly and Roche Diagnostics, two of Indiana’s biggest employers, discussed the future of the life sciences industry following innovations made during COVID-19.

“We did what we normally do in 16 years in eight months,” said Dave Ricks, CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, at Friday’s discussion.

That rapid pace for developing COVID-19 therapeutics is something Ricks said he wants to use to create treatments for other diseases.

“I just think about what if the best new standard of care for diabetes could be adopted in seven days?” Ricks said.

Eli Lilly and Roche Diagnostics both worked to quickly develop testing for COVID-19. Leaders of both companies say partnerships with government agencies helped make that happen and will continue to be crucial to future projects in what they describe as the “post-COVID” era.

Matt Sause, CEO of Roche Diagnostics North America, said the pandemic revealed “how important these public-private partnerships are, in terms of accelerating not just the development of health care solutions but also ensuring broad access.”

Both CEOs say they’re also working with government partners on preparedness for future pandemics.

“One thing that was quite a challenge in the early days of the pandemic was the lack of infrastructure out there available for testing,” Sause said. “And so I think for future pandemics, maintaining that infrastructure is going to be critical.”

Earlier this week, Eli Lilly announced a $2.1 billion expansion in Boone County that will create 500 jobs.

Ricks praised the Hoosier State’s environment for business, though he believes there are areas where Indiana can improve to make sure companies like his have the staff they need.

“We need more trained workforce,” Ricks said. “We want to work with the government on that. We need better health care and sort of indirect cost system.”

During the summit Friday, Indiana Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers said strengthening the workforce and improving education are among his priorities as well.

The Indiana Global Economic Summit wraps up this weekend.