South Carolina delegation a hit at Swiss BIO Day see more
SCBIO and the State of South Carolina were center stage during Swiss Biotech days in Basel, Switzerland, a conference that hosted 1,000 attendees this week.
South Carolina demonstrated its willingness to be on the leading edge and open to partnerships and unique collaborations. The list of dignitaries that visited with Team SC was impressive, headlined by the President of Switzerland, Ignazio Cassis. It also included Eva Weigold Schultz, former Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Bern, and global life sciences leaders like AMGEN’s Henrik Asmussen, Dr. Suzanne Grund, of Geistlich Pharma, and many more.
I had the opportunity to talk with President Cassis and reinforce our state’s commitment to international investment and collaboration in the life sciences sector, which benefits both countries and, ultimately, translates into better patient outcomes. As a former physician with a master’s degree in public health, he has a unique perspective on this industry.
A roundtable discussion with Swiss Biotech Association President Michael Altorfer and other leaders highlighted our current biotech firms with a presence in both South Carolina and Switzerland. Belimed Life Science CFO Simon Engeli and CeQur CFO/EVP Douglas Gunthardt spoke about the positive business climate in the Palmetto State and the tremendous support provided as their companies expanded to the US.
With over 30 meetings in two days, and as a featured guest of the conference, our team of SCBIO’s Carla Whitlock, Central SC Alliance’s David King, Charleston County’s Jennifer Brown (also representing CRDA), Sebastian Nowack of the South Carolina Department of Commerce European Office in Munich, Susanna Auf de Maur (a South Carolina native and partner at Kaufmann Ruedi) and with support of the Upstate SC Alliance, successfully laid the groundwork for future investments. We found an attentive audience as we shared the story of our impressive growth, burgeoning innovation ecosystem, and new infrastructure that is being created to support our industry.
We look forward to our return trip next year and to continued collaboration with the Swiss Biotech Association as we learn from each other and support the companies making a difference with innovative technologies and patient outcomes.
Over 500 registered leaders in Charleston celebrate growth, convey recognition on four top honorees see more
To resounding applause from a record gathering from 6 countries, 26 states and virtually every county in South Carolina, more than 500 life sciences leaders at SCBIO 2022 in Charleston saluted four of their own – three individuals and one organization – for profound positive impact and exceptional contributions to the advancement of South Carolina’s life sciences industry, and the health and advancement of the state.
Attendees at the sold-out conference, delivered both live and virtually, also learned that South Carolina’s life sciences industry impact has more than doubled since 2016 – to $25.7 billion annually – and its core employment has surged more than 42% in that period despite the pandemic-induced recession of 2020.
Recipients of the Life Sciences Industry’s PINNACLE awards were the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) as Life Sciences Organization of the Year; Dr. Linda Bell, South Carolina state epidemiologist from SC DHEC, as Individual Contributor of the Year; Dr. Martine LaBerge of Clemson University as Life Sciences Hall of Fame recipient; and Ashley Daugherty of Nephron Pharmaceuticals as Rising Star recipient.
Clemson University’s Dr. Martine LaBerge, chair of the Clemson Department of Bioengineering, was presented with the South Carolina Life Sciences Hall of Fame Award for her personal championing of the life sciences industry, which today has 1,033 firms directly involved and over 87,000 professionals employed in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. Clemson University is a Mission Partner of SCBIO and has been highly instrumental in helping the rapid growth of life sciences in the Palmetto State. LaBerge, who joined Clemson in 1990, is the Hall of Fame’s third member, joining former South Carolina Secretary of State Bobby Hitt and Harris Pastides, who was University of South Carolina president from 2008-2019 and recently returned as interim president.
LaBerge received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Montreal in Quebec and did postdoctoral work at the University of Waterloo in Ontario before joining Clemson as an assistant professor in 1990, where she rose through the ranks, became interim department chair in 2002. Deservedly credited with advancing bioengineering technology and creating interdisciplinary partnerships of scholars, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders to foster innovation, she has helped Clemson establish and strengthen strategic partnerships with the likes of Arthrex, Prisma Health and the Medical University of South Carolina. She also has played a central role in establishing new bioengineering facilities, including the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus (CUBEInC) in Greenville.
Presented with the South Carolina Life Sciences Pinnacle Award for Organizational Contribution to the industry was MUSC Health. A Mission Partner of SCBIO, MUSC was saluted for its research, patient care and innovation in the advancement of life sciences and for its contributions during the worst of the COVID pandemic. The MUSC team was honored for its thought leadership, its educational focus in teaching future healthcare providers, its testing and vaccination campaigns to help beat back the pandemic. Accepting the award for MUSC were Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health and vice president for health affairs of the Medical University of South Carolina; Dr. David Cole, President of MUSC; and Ms. Caroline Brown, Chief External Affairs Officer for MUSC.
Presented with the South Carolina Life Sciences Pinnacle Award for Individual Contribution to the industry was Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist and Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control for SC DHEC. Dr. Bell has worked in public health for over 28 years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the Viral Special Pathogens Branch and as an EIS field officer. She has served in several positions with SC Department of Health and Environmental Control where, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been a lead medical advisor in South Carolina providing guidance to help control disease spread for health care
providers, elected officials, businesses, and the public.
Dr. Ashley Daugherty serves as Chief Scientific Officer for Nephron Pharmaceuticals, a rapidly growing West-Columbia based pharmaceutical organization. Dr. Daugherty joined Nephron in 2014 as a Chemist and has rapidly risen through the ranks, spending time in analytical services and product development before assuming her current role in 2019. She holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of South Carolina and her Ph.D. from Emory University in Biomolecular Chemistry. She was honored with the inaugural Rising Star Award for her contributions to product development, advancement of intellectual property initiatives, and her strong and steady leadership during the unprecedented times of the pandemic as Nephron ramped up production, added production lines, and debuted new products and services to meet critical demands of the state and country.
The four honorees were celebrated by a record 500+ registrants who filled Charleston’s Gaillard Center, with attendees including scores of top industry chief executives, leaders in government and higher education, biotechnology and pharma executives, clinicians and researchers, and industry supporters from across America.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state.
As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial, and environmental products that transform how we heal, fuel and feed the world.
Global BIO CEO to Keynote 2022 SC Life Sciences Conference; Registration Soars, Exhibit Hall Nears Sell-Out in CharlestonOver 140 organizations and hundreds of nation’s industry leaders to gather Feb. 22-24 see more
SOUTH CAROLINA – January 24, 2022 – Global President & CEO of BIO, Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, will be live in Charleston to keynote the opening day of SCBIO 2022, the Life Sciences Conference of South Carolina, conference organizers have announced.
Dr. McMurry-Heath will join more than 30 additional speakers as featured presenters at the largest life sciences conference in Palmetto State history as the event convenes both in-person and virtually February 22-24 at the Gaillard Center in the heart of Charleston, S.C.
Themed “Challenge Accepted,” the 2-day SCBIO 2022 event will feature national speaker sessions including Transformational Technologies, Next Generation Patient Care, Ensuring Opportunity for All, and Embracing Collaboration & Innovation – fundamental forces driving the state’s fastest growing industry: life sciences.
Dr. McMurry-Heath assumed the leadership of BIO as just its third President and CEO in June, 2020. A medical doctor and molecular immunologist by training, she stewards the world’s largest biotechnology advocacy group, representing 1,000 life sciences companies and organizations from 30 countries. The organization’s mission is to support companies that discover and deploy scientific breakthroughs that improve human health, environmental stewardship, and sustainable agriculture.
She has championed a focus on broadening access to scientific progress so more patients from diverse backgrounds can benefit from cutting-edge innovation, clinical trials and healthcare funding, a topic she terms “the social justice issue of our age.” She joined BIO from Johnson & Johnson where she served as Global Head of Evidence Generation for Medical Device Companies and then Vice President of Global External Innovation and Global Leader for Regulatory Sciences. She was also instrumental in bringing J&J’s incubator, JLabs, to Washington, DC. She led a global team of 900 with responsibilities in 150 countries around the globe.
Presented by sponsoring organizations Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Vikor Scientific, Revaly (a Zverse Solution) and other top organizations, the conference is expected to draw a sell-out attendance of 450 in person attendees and hundreds more virtually to Charleston. Attendees will be required to present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test result within 72 hours of arrival before being admitted.
Among other top speakers scheduled to appear include FDA Associate Director of the CDER Drug Shortage Staff Valerie Jensen MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley, Velocity Clinical Research executive Steve Clemons, and USC Provost Dr. Stephen Cutler, Clemson University President James Clements, Commerce Secretary Harry Lightsey III, Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy, PhRMA Senior Policy Director Courtney Christian, Georgia Health Information Network Director Dr. Denise Hines, State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell and more than 20 others.
National economist Dr. Joseph Von Nessen of University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business will report findings of a just-completed economic impact study of the state’s life sciences cluster, last analyzed in 2017, while SCBIO CEO James Chappell will present a State of the Industry presentation on the outlook for South Carolina’s $12 billion – and fastest-growing – industry.
The conference features an expanded – and nearly sold out -- exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry businesses, institutions of higher learning and essential support industry partners from across America. The conference also features presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2021 Organization of the Year, Individual of the Year, and Rising Star under 40 years of age, as well as a new recipient into the SC Life Sciences Hall of Fame.
Hundreds of in-person and virtual attendees will take advantage of meetings and connection sessions through the conference’s Partnering Portal as well as at two gala receptions planned for attendees.
Registration to attend SCBIO 2022 is now open at the 2022 Annual Conference section of www.scbio.org for interested companies, industry supporters, students interested in life sciences, faculty and teachers. Limited Exhibit space and sponsorships are still available by inquiring at email@example.com.
The 2-day conference draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion. Already committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, R&D, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has more than 700 firms directly involved and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. In 2021, Governor Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order making it a state priority to continue to grow and expand the life sciences industry in the Palmetto State.
Among 140 leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Vikor Scientific, Zverse, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Abbott, Alcami and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and economic development entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.
For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.
South Carolina's fastest-growing industry stars in new SCBIZ Magazine features see more
The 14-page feature spanned four stories, from the trends driving the rapid growth of life sciences in South Carolina, to major advances in life science research happening here at home. A fabulous story on how SCBIO and life sciences organizations are working to close the workforce gap is also included, as well as an industry salute for our role in helping America emerge from COVID. It's a tremendous section.
Over 20 organizations are featured in stories, and nearly as many industry leaders from across SC are quoted in articles, enriched with photos, industry data on segments and market penetration, and more.
More than two years in the making by the SCBIO team who worked with SCBIZ to bring this first-ever magazine feature on the industry to life, SCBIZ intends to build on this year's momentum and do another life sciences feature next Summer. READ THE ENTIRE SECTION HERE!
SC Life Sciences Conference to Feature BIO Global Executive Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath Among Speakers at SCBIO 2021SCBIO 2021 to feature top national speakers on SC Life Sciences Feb. 16-17 see more
The Power of Us Conference features virtual format with top speakers, virtual partnering sessions, industry awards and virtual exhibit hall; CEOs and top industry leaders from 30+ states and countries expected for strategic partnership development, industry insights.
SOUTH CAROLINA – January 11, 2021 – With the biggest story of 2020 – the global COVID-19 pandemic – serving as the backdrop, the biggest life sciences conference in Palmetto State history will convene virtually February 16-17 to address how South Carolina and America will once again achieve health and prosperity, South Carolina life sciences industry officials announced today.
Themed “The Power of Us,” the 2-day SCBIO 2021 event will feature national speaker sessions on The Power of Innovation, The Power of Partnership, and The Power of People – each a fundamental force which drives the state’s surging $12 billion industry that is a key contributor to South Carolina’s expanding knowledge economy.
Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath is the first announced featured speaker for the 2-day conference, addressing the virtual gathering about the critical importance of The Power of People, and how diversity, equality and inclusion are essential ingredients to true collaboration and discovery – as has been borne out during development of COVID-19 vaccines.
A medical doctor and molecular immunologist by training, Dr. McMurry-Heath was named CEO of BIO in 2020 after time with Johnson & Johnson where she served as Global Head of Evidence Generation for Medical Device Companies and then Vice President of Global External Innovation and Global Leader for Regulatory Sciences. She was also instrumental in expansion of J&J’s incubator, JLabs, to Washington, DC; is the founding director of the Aspen Institute’s Health, Biomedical Science, and Society Policy Program; and received her MD/PhD from Duke’s Medical Scientist Training Program, becoming the first African American to graduate from the prestigious program. She also spent 12 years working at the research bench before taking policy and leadership roles in government and industry.
Dr. McMurry-Heath will be joined by more than a dozen additional presenters and honorees at SCBIO 2021 – the annual conference which annually brings together leaders and executives from life sciences organizations across the nation to South Carolina. In deference to the pandemic, all events are being conducted safely in a virtual format, organizers revealed.
The conference will also feature a virtual exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry businesses, institutions of higher learning and essential support industry partners from across the country, as well as presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2020 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year. SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros will deliver the highly anticipated “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while hundreds of virtual attendees are expected to take advantage of meetings and connection sessions through the conference’s Partnering Portal. Additional speakers will be announced shortly, as well as posted online.
Registration to attend the 2-day conference is now open online. For complete details, visit the 2021 Virtual Conference section at www.scbio.org. Registration is free to employees of most SCBIO investors and supporters as well as to students interested in life sciences, while faculty and teachers can attend the entire conference for $25. General admission tickets are available while they last for as little as $75. Limited Virtual Exhibit space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2-day conference draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion. Already committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, R&D, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 750 firms directly involved and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.
“Life sciences is a major driver of South Carolina’s economy, and this conference’s growth is testament to the industry’s surging impact, reach and rapidly rising economic significance in our state and region,” noted SCBIO President and CEO Sam Konduros. “Already accounting for thousands of highly-skilled jobs in the Palmetto State, this sector has tremendous growth potential, and we’re excited to virtually showcase the top companies, research universities and leaders from across our state and country at SCBIO 2021.”
Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Pharmaceuticals, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, and economic development entities including the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and many others.
As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members include academic institutions, biotech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products that transform how we heal, fuel and feed the world.
For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.
SCBIO believes growing the life sciences sector will significantly transform the state’s economy. see more
Compliments of the Community Journal...
It was all smiles on Sept. 30 as BMW marked the 25th anniversary of the first vehicle to roll off its Spartanburg assembly line, a singular moment that dramatically transformed the economic face of South Carolina.
A quarter-century after opening, the German manufacturer’s North American facility employs more than 11,000 workers who build 1,500 vehicles daily, a pace requiring the services of more than 40 main suppliers across the state.
The average wage among all S.C. jobs supported by the automotive industry stood at $64,120 in 2017 compared to $40,293 across all employment categories, say findings commissioned by the South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization (SCBIO).
Now three years old, SCBIO is spearheading an aggressive initiative to make South Carolina the preferred location for new or expanding companies in another highly promising industry: life sciences. Read the entire story by clicking here.
Enzyme and protein biotech leader creates, manufactures, distributes next gen products see more
South Carolina’s Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems, Inc. (IMCS), a leader in recombinant enzymes and micro-chromatography technologies, was awarded $1.8 million for Phase II of its Fast-Track Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health/ National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH/NIGMS).
Combined with earlier SBIR funding, the grant will provide scientists access to affordable gangliosides that aid in developing therapeutics and diagnostics for neurological diseases including Huntington's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and Alzheimer's Disease.
The NIH/NIGMS previously awarded IMCS a 4-year, $2.56 million Fast-Track Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant to expand the glycan toolkit and build an extensive array of sialoglycans that advance glycobiology-related research. The combined Fast-Track grants for the projects now exceeds $5.25 million. These projects will provide the scientific community access to affordable, easy-to-use reaction kits to facilitate synthesis of various glycans to advance research into potential diagnostics and therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases.
The SBIR project is headed by L. Andrew Lee, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of IMCS, along with Xi Chen, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. The STTR project is in collaboration with Hai Yu, Ph.D., Project Scientist at the UC-Davis.
Glycobiology, the study of the biological impact of sugars, has gained momentum in recent years. The surfaces of viruses, bacteria, and cells of our bodies are decorated with unique sugars or glycans. Some viruses and bacteria can exploit glycans to wreak havoc on our bodies, while a lack of glycans can result in disease progression. Studies suggest that modifications to certain glycans in molecules related to the brain are implicated in the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
To date, the high cost of reagents and materials needed for glycobiology research have contributed to few tools to study glycans. Glycan-modified cell membranes (glycolipids) and gangliosides (a component of brain matter critical to research) must be harvested from pigs, sheep, and cows as there is currently no cost-effective manufacturing process. The biosynthetic manufacturing technology used for these projects will result in animal-free gangliosides.
Matthew Macauley, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Alberta, is eager to access significant quantities of gangliosides. "Some experiments with glycolipids are cost-prohibitive, but scalable and facile access to glycolipids would make such experiments financially feasible,” he noted.
While not involved in the grant, Dr. Macauley’s lab studies glycan-binding proteins called Siglecs and their impact on disease states such as Alzheimer’s. Noting that commercially available glycolipids do not capture the diversity needed in research, he notes that reaction kits funded by the grant could be “a tremendous help for a lab that doesn't have expertise with glycan synthesis and doesn’t want to invest in getting all these enzymes expressed.”
Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers R44GM139441 and R42GM143998. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems, Inc is a privately held biotechnology company that strives to address the growing needs of clinical and research laboratories through innovative technologies and custom solutions designed to increase testing efficiency. IMCS creates, manufactures, and distributes next-generation biotechnology products to clinical and forensic toxicology, academic research facilities, US Government agencies, and health science companies around the world.
Life sciences expands career opportunities for SC graduates see more
COVID caused pain and heartache and death across the world and here in the Lowcountry, but it also revealed some bright spots. One of those is the life sciences industry, which was responsible for diagnosing COVID, providing responses, and ultimately developing effective vaccines.
Coincidentally, the life sciences industry in South Carolina is itself on a growth spurt that was accelerated by the pandemic. The number of firms in the industry had doubled in the last four years, making it the fastest-growing industry sector in the state. The Darla Moore School of Business estimated its annual economic impact at $12 billion before the most recent spike.
Life sciences produce next-generation pharmaceuticals and vaccines; advanced medical devices, diagnostics, and testing; digital health; bioscience distribution; bio-agriculture and biomaterials; and biological solutions for advanced manufacturing.
Life sciences also encompass two areas of focus for the Lowcountry Graduate Center – advanced manufacturing and healthcare management. While the connection with healthcare is obvious, many people don’t realize that life science research and advanced manufacturing work symbiotically. Many life science innovations, like medical devices, require advanced manufacturing to produce, while life science innovations can power the process of advanced manufacturing itself.
Career Opportunities in Life Sciences
That means jobs, and not just for M.D.s and Ph.D.’s, but for technical college graduates and university biology and chemistry majors as well. The average life sciences position pays $79,000, according to the official state affiliate of the U.S. Biotechnology Innovation Organization, also referred to as SCBIO, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the life sciences industry in S.C. Because workforce development is the primary challenge facing the industry, SCBIO is engaged in an initiative to promote the industry as a career path for students, guidance counselors, and parents at the K-12 level and in two- and four-year college.
Indeed, SCBIO is in the process of developing an industry-advocated life sciences curriculum for technical colleges that can prepare graduates for jobs in the field. Courses would cover manufacturing processes; safety and technical protocols like measurements and ISO standards; soft skills required for all workplaces; and the connections between the various life science components and the life-saving innovations they support.
“We want to get to students even sooner so we’re partnering with organizations that are already in schools to add more of the ‘S’ in STEM,” said Erin Ford, interim CEO at SCBIO. “If someone takes a course at Trident Tech, they can get a job paying $50,000 or more with health insurance while working on a product that helps people live better lives.”
The vector of life science development is different depending on the area of the state, with the Lowcountry showing strength in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing, says Ford.
Life Science Companies Need Space to Grow
Besides workforce development, the next big challenge constraining growth is space. Lab space at the new WestEdge development in downtown Charleston was fully subscribed when it opened and now developers are seeking new space. Clean labs are more complex and costly to retrofit and build than ordinary office or warehouse space.
Nonetheless, the firms keep coming – or starting – and the state has gotten behind the industry. As a critical step, it authorized and funded SCBIO as the state’s lead life sciences industry economic development organization.
Life science provides more than just more job growth: it provides diversification of an economy that 30 years ago relied heavily on a Navy base that packed up and left. Life sciences are more recession-resistant than automotive and aeronautics, two areas of manufacturing strength in the Lowcountry that respond to retail market demand. People never cease needing health innovations.
Recognizing that, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) and South Carolina Research Authority have backed the industry. CRDA was the first development authority in the state to build map out a strategic plan to attract and retain life science businesses.
Headwinds for Life Sciences in South Carolina
Sam Konduros of KOR Medical, a clinical cannabis firm launched by the Charleston-based diagnostic and testing company Vikor Scientific, says South Carolina and SCBIO have created a business climate conducive to the industry, and the health care and advanced manufacturing infrastructure have added tailwinds to its development. Citing Vikor’s growth from 45 employees to 450 during COVID, he says recruiting a talented workforce has not been a significant challenge so far. He notes the usual Charleston quality-of-life benefits – weather, beaches, history, and food, in addition to the growing vibrancy of the industry – as recruiting tools have contributed to the success.
Ford and Konduros see possible headwinds elsewhere for the industry. Roadways and other transportation infrastructure could use improvement, and housing availability and affordability are statewide issues. For example, the state’s franchise tax, now eliminated by 36 states, penalizes early-stage companies successfully raising venture capital before going to market. In an industry that often spends millions to earn FDA approval prior to commercialization, the tax is a burden, they say.
Life sciences among segments leading SC growth see more
When Commerce Secretary Harry Lightsey saw his first iPhone, he was seeing one of the first in the world. In 2007, it was one of only two.
At the time, he was the Southeast president of AT&T, in a room among the company’s top leadership.
When all eyes were on the company chairman, he reached into the pocket of his suit.
“He pulled out this object that none of us recognized and said, ‘This is one of two existing iPhones in the world. The other one is held by Stephen Jobs, and I’ve got this one. This device has convinced me that it is going to change the world, but I have no idea how it’s going to change the world, but I’m convinced it’s going to change the world,’” Lightsey recounted at Upstate SC Alliance’s midyear meeting, held at the Crowne Plaza Greenville Wednesday.
How today’s developments will mold the business landscape as we know it is yet to be seen, he said.
No one knows.
But, Lightsey assured the crowd of alliance investors, it’s shifting in the direction of ever-growing mobility, communications and biotech capabilities. And it’s shifting fast.
It’s South Carolina’s job to keep up and stay ahead, he said during one of his first public appearances in the Upstate since he took the secretary’s post.
“I do know this, that we have to be ready for change,” he said. “We have to be ready for the opportunities that the change is going to present to us. We shouldn’t view change as a threat or a concern, but as certainly something we can capitalize on.”
Much of the afternoon meeting focused on economic development victories of the past year within the life sciences, tech or R&D realms: a few vignettes from the 22 companies that moved to or expanded in the 10 counties in 2021 with Upstate SC Alliance’s assistance.
Upstate SC Alliance projects Pozyx, a Belgian information technology firm, and Oshkosh Defense’s manufacturing facility for the next generation mail truck held the spotlight, alongside BMW’s electrification efforts and Upstate biotech companies Zylo Therapeutics, Chartspan and Epica International.
Upstate SC Alliance’s announcements for the year thus far have prompted the creation of an expected 3,963 jobs and $930 million total investment.
“When many areas saw contractions in service, South Carolina’s manufacturing sector actually grew last year,” John Lummus, CEO and president of Upstate SC Alliance, said during the meeting. “And manufacturing and its need for engineering, technology and creative solutions will continue to drive our growth strategy moving forward. That’s why you’re seeing a stronger focus on innovation as a complement to our business recruitment program.”
He added that on the economic development announcement front, so far, 2021 has brought in three times the capital investment and twice the number of created jobs as 2019, especially in sectors bolstering enhanced mobility and health care services.
According to the group’s midyear report, the largest number of projects in the pipeline are in the engineered materials (263), automotive and transport (238), industrial manufacturing (155), life sciences (146) and aerospace and defense (144) fields. The first half of 2021 prompted 23 requests for information on economic development opportunities in the Upstate.
Domestic companies — 414 contacts to be exact — are the most likely, judging by the number of active contacts, to make the move to the Upstate in the months ahead.
International supply chains and travel may have been hampered by COVID-19 restrictions, but it didn’t completely derail progress, especially with the virtual playing field provided by a tectonic shift to Zoom conference rooms and continued in-person visits from leaders like Belgium’s Consul General in Atlanta, Michael Gerebtzoff.
The majority — almost 60% — of the companies that expanded in or moved to the area throughout 2021 were foreign-owned businesses: Deutsche Post DHL’s subsidiary DHL Supply Chain, Sweden’s Frauenthal Gnotec, Ireland’s E+I Engineering USA and China’s Gissing North America, just to name a few.
Looking forward, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Spain, China, France, India, Belgium and Italy respectively are the hottest international sources for Upstate economic development prospects based off the number of active contacts.
“We have a lot of strengths and inherent advantages just because of who we are and where are,” Lightsey said. “But one of our main strengths is that we are a small state and we understand what it means to work together as a team. Commerce is a state agency that has supported the alliances’ growth and maturation of the alliances across the state, and the Upstate Alliance has certainly led the way, is something that’s incredible strength for our state: the ability to be able to work together for both our existing businesses, as well as those businesses that are looking to be partners with our state.”
Vikor Scientific Launches KOR Medical, Plans to “Set the Standard” in Personalized Clinical Cannabis TreatmentFormer SCBIO exec Sam Konduros to lead KOR Medical see more
Former SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros named President and Chief Executive Officer
of new Vikor Scientific health innovation company
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – May 4, 2021 – Continuing its rapid expansion as one of South Carolina’s fastest growing life sciences and healthcare firms, Charleston-headquartered Vikor Scientific announced that it is launching health innovation company KOR Medical “to set a new industry standard in the arena of personalized clinical cannabis to benefit patients afflicted with diseases ranging from epilepsy to cancer, and to help alleviate the nation’s opioid addiction crisis.”
According to KOR Medical Managing Partners and Vikor Scientific Co-Founders Scotty Branch and Shea Harrelson, the company is exploring locations nationwide for its initial state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar operation.
“KOR Medical will be a highly innovative organization that will bring a new blueprint and novel value proposition to the national clinical cannabis marketplace, powered by an AI and blockchain supported seed to sale platform,” said Mr. Branch. “Coupled with a relentless commitment to personalized medicine and rigorous compliance and purity, KOR will focus on providing clinicians with the tools and data they need to support leading-edge treatment protocols for the needs of each unique patient.”
In addition to former South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization (SCBIO) chief executive Sam Konduros, a seasoned business leader and attorney who will serve as president and CEO, KOR Medical is also onboarding four senior executives that bring multi-disciplinary expertise and experience in the clinical cannabis industry – including Joseph Strauss, who will serve as COO and executive vice president. Mr. Strauss brings more than a decade of immersive experience in the industry across multiple states to KOR, including Oregon, California, Colorado, and Florida. Other corporate appointees championing sales and marketing, cultivation and innovation, and government and legal affairs will be announced in early Summer.
“Mr. Konduros will lead all aspects of the company’s business and serve on the board of directors of both KOR Medical and Vikor Scientific to provide insights regarding the strategic direction of our portfolio of companies as we expand in the US and globally,” said Mr. Branch. “Sam is the epitome of a world class CEO. We look forward to watching him execute our mission with the support of an extraordinary executive team who will enable KOR Medical to achieve its vision to help transform healthcare.”
Armed with a comprehensive business plan and finalization of its laboratory-grade indoor growing facility design, KOR Medical is currently forging key industry and business partnerships with numerous entities with established track records in the cannabis industry. KOR Medical expects to confirm its initial US location of operations by mid-Summer 2021, with the site becoming a model for future expansion across the nation. KOR is planning its initial product launch during 2021, followed by full-scale production in 2022.
IMCS growing into new space, adding positions see more
An Irmo-based biotechnology company is investing $4.1 million to expand its Richland County operations in a move expected to create 31 jobs during the next five years.
Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems Inc. creates, manufactures and distributes products and services for clients including clinical and forensic toxicology labs, academic research facilities, federal government agencies and health science companies. In January, the National Institutes of Health awarded the company a $900,000 Small Business Innovation Research Fast-Track grant.
“Over the past several years, IMCS has experienced considerable success as a part of the Richland County business community,” Andrew Lee, IMCS CEO, said in a news release. “The tax incentives provided by the county will allow us to continue investing in people, capital equipment and facilities to expand our company and increase economic development in the county.”
Richland County Council approved a special source revenue credit to reduce property taxes for IMCS by 35% over a 10-year period.
“County Council is always eager to support growing businesses in Richland County, and it is especially exciting to watch a company like IMCS get its start here and achieve so much,” Paul Livingston, county council chair, said. “The investment and new jobs IMCS is bringing to our community will benefit our residents and are evidence of the type of success businesses can achieve here.”
IMCS’ enzymes are used in drug-testing labs, and drug discovery labs use the company’s micro separations products to discover antibodies that can be used to fight diseases such as COVID-19. IMCS is using the federal grant to scale up production of new enzymes that will be used to make therapeutic drugs for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The grant is funding research into the production of affordable gangliosides, biomolecules that contain sugars and a type of lipid called ceramides and play critical roles in various biological processes.
In addition to its headquarters in Richland County, IMCS bought a second nearby facility in 2019 and anticipates purchasing a larger building in the county in the future, according to the release from Richland County. IMCS is combining the existing facilities to ramp up production and delivery of its products to pharmaceutical companies worldwide.
“We were a USC IdeaLabs incubator company and have continued to grow in the county over the past seven years,” Lee said. “As we look to expand our operation to a third facility, it is only natural that we would want to do so here.”
The new investment and jobs will be split between IMCS’ Irmo headquarters and the new facility.
Founded in 2013 by three Ph.D. scientists from the University of South Carolina, IMCS now has 40 full-time employees, with 600 clients in every U.S. state and in 15 countries.
Vikor Scientific and Quantgene Partner to Launch SerenityTM -- Ground-Breaking Advancement in Precision Genomics, Personalized MedicineFounders take virtual stage at South Carolina life sciences conference to introduce technology see more
Founders take virtual stage at South Carolina life sciences conference to introduce revolutionary ability for early detection of cancer mutations
Santa Monica, CA and Charleston, SC -- Feb. 17, 2021 – Vikor Scientific, a South Carolina-based leading, molecular diagnostics company with a rapidly expanding nationwide footprint, has announced a strategic investment in California-based Quantgene Inc. to accelerate the commercialization of Quantgene’s flagship product, SerenityTM. Serenity provides world-leading accuracy in precision genomics and AI-enabled personalized preventative care.
Quantgene’s Serenity combines advanced next-generation sequencing with proprietary cloud and AI technology to uncover deeper and more meaningful health insights earlier. Serenity will launch with four core components of health protection:
- Liquid biopsy to detect cancer-related mutations in the blood to support early detection
- Deep genomic sequencing across all 20,000 genes for a more complete picture of disease, medication and lifestyle risks
- In-depth patient health profiles including health history, family history and lifestyle to bring more context to test results
- An expert clinical team to provide analysis and connect patients to a network of world-leading medical experts
The combination of these components allow the system to detect, flag and monitor disease and disease risk at earlier stages. Early intervention for potentially fatal conditions like cancer is critical to ensuring better treatment response and long-term outcomes. This is a critical advancement in marrying medicine and technology to ensure the company realizes their mission of extending the average lifespan of members by a decade within a decade.
South Carolina-based Vikor Scientific is a market leader in providing targeted, molecular diagnostics that can improve clinical and economic outcomes. Headquartered in Charleston, S.C., Vikor anchors the WestEdge Life Sciences Campus adjacent to the Medical University of South Carolina and is approaching 400 employees nationwide. The announcement was made at SCBIO 2021, the acclaimed national conference of South Carolina’s life sciences industry which draws industry leaders from around the globe.
In addition to ensuring the successful launch of Serenity commercially, the new partners have plans to launch several downstream liquid biopsy-based clinical oncology products including minimum residual disease detection (“MRD”), recurrence monitoring and companion diagnostics over the next several months. Vikor Scientific will leverage their proven commercialization engine for innovative molecular diagnostics technologies and leverage their growing national salesforce in service of the new product roll outs.
Shea Harrelson, co-founder of Vikor Scientific, said: “In Quantgene, Vikor saw a compelling opportunity to support the commercialization of advanced genomics in the service of preventative care and positively impacting the course of many chronic diseases, starting with cancer. This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission as a company - to improve patient outcomes and prevent unnecessary healthcare costs and delays in treatment by improving diagnostic accuracy, reducing turnaround time and personalizing treatment options.”
Scotty Branch, co-founder of Vikor Scientific added: “Changing the paradigm of healthcare has always been the vision for Vikor Scientific. The platform built by the Quantgene team is revolutionary and certain to accelerate the speed at which we diagnose and treat patients for cancer. Vikor is excited to lead the commercialization and expand on our mission of driving clinical outcomes. And we are particularly excited to do so here in Charleston, where we envision a dynamic future for innovation, growth and expansion of the booming life sciences hub here in South Carolina.”
“With Serenity, we are first-to-market in combining liquid biopsy cancer detection with whole exome sequencing and advanced medical intelligence. We hope to unlock a new era in medicine in which trained physicians can detect multiple cancers at early stages in the blood with single molecule precision.” added Jo Bhakdi, founder and CEO of Quantgene. “Serenity brings genomic technologies to patients within an innovative system of preventative care that we believe will set a new standard in patient-centered personalized medicine. We are excited to take this important step with our partners at Vikor Scientific.”
Alluding to Serenity as a new frontier in science that “promises earlier detection than ever and promises to unlock a new era of medicine,” Branch saluted the role of SCBIO and the Charleston Regional Development Authority in making the announcement a reality.
“I can envision the day when this collaboration leads to a new corporate hub here with new labs and bright new talent from South Carolina medical schools advancing this revolutionary technology,” Branch added. “We credit the efforts of SCBIO and this state in bringing our organization and Quantgene together, and we intend to identify new collaborations and partnerships that advance the future of medicine, and promise a healthier future for our state, country and world.”
New leadership named at helm of BIO see more
The Executive Committee of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and its Board of Directors have announced the appointment of Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath to lead BIO at this pivotal moment in our organization’s history, effective June 1, 2020.
"With her background as a scientist and physician, her health policy and experience in federal government, her leadership within industry as a champion of scientific progress, her commitment as an advocate for patients, and her gifts as a communicator, Dr. McMurry-Heath is the right person at the right time to lead us into the future," the official announcement released today stated.
Dr. McMurry-Heath is a coalition-builder and change agent who comes to BIO from Johnson & Johnson (J&J). She served in numerous senior leadership roles at J&J since 2014, most recently serving as Vice President of External Innovation, Global Leader for Regulatory Science and Executive Director of Scientific Partnerships for JLABS @ Washington, D.C. There, she led a large global team charting the evidence generation and regulatory strategy across J&J’s medical device companies. And she worked to knock down regulatory barriers that were hindering the ability of small innovators to partner and grow.
Prior to her work at J&J, Dr. McMurry-Heath served in scientific leadership roles at the FDA from 2010 to 2014. Her driving purpose at the FDA was to devise strategies to incorporate the patient point of view into FDA decision-making and develop new ways for patients to collaborate with innovators.
BIO’s incoming leader is a clinician-scientist with experience working at the bench in molecular immunology. She is the first African-American to graduate from Duke’s Medical Scientist Training Program, receiving an MD/PhD in immunology along the way. While Harvard-educated, she was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area – one of the great epicenters of biotechnology.
Throughout her impressive career, Dr. McMurry-Heath has been focused on the social impact of medicine so that more people in our society can benefit from its transformative potential. She led health and science policy on Capitol Hill for Senator Joe Lieberman, where she drafted legislation to protect the country from biological attacks, and then went on to sharpen her policy skills at the Robert Wood Foundation.
Dr. McMurry-Heath will become just the third leader of BIO since our organization’s founding in 1993. She will succeed a towering figure in our industry, the Honorable Jim Greenwood, who for 16 years has built the most consequential biotechnology advocacy organization in the world. Mr. Greenwood was a champion of the cause even before he was BIO's leader, reforming the FDA and fighting for broad acceptance of stem-cell science during his 12 years of principled, pragmatic leadership in the United States Congress.
As BIO’s leader, Mr. Greenwood has brought incomparable political and policy acumen to bear on the needs of our industry. During his tenure at BIO and as the United States built an innovation ecosystem that is the envy of the world, he played a pivotal role. After he hands over the reins on June 1st to Dr. McMurry-Heath, he has committed to work with her and will stay on in a strategic advisory role. The industry and BIO are grateful for his outstanding leadership, professionalism and continued contribution.
Growth of South Carolina's Life Sciences, Upcoming Events featured in Statewide Radio Interview by SCBIO's Erin FordSCBIO's Erin Ford is featured statewide on South Carolina Business Review see more
Life sciences is one of the fastest-growing segments in South Carolina's economy, with an annual economic impact exceeding $11 billon. SCBIO Vice President Erin Ford is the featured guest on this edition of South Carolina Business Review, the popular business news program hosted by Mike Switzer airing on South Carolina Public Radio across the Palmetto State. Click here to hear Erin's comments about the life sciences industry, as well as a major upcoming event next week in Columbia.
Building the business of life sciences in South Carolina has become the call to action of SCBIO... see more
Building the business of life sciences in South Carolina has become the call to action and theme of the 2017 annual conference of the S.C. Biotechnology Organization (SCBIO). The rapidly evolving statewide industry association is featured in this September 2017 issue of Charleston Business Magazine, and will be featured in October 2017 issues of Columbia Business and Greenville Business as well. Click here for the full article.