Hundreds of nation’s industry leaders to gather for strategic partnership development, insights see more
With the biggest story of 2021 – the global COVID-19 pandemic – serving as a backdrop, the largest life sciences conference in Palmetto State history will convene both in-person and virtually February 22-24 to address how South Carolina and America are accepting the challenge of achieving health and prosperity for all, South Carolina life sciences industry officials have announced.
Themed “Challenge Accepted,” the 2-day SCBIO 2022 event will feature national speaker sessions on 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.
Currently listed as a $12 billion industry, 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.
FDA Associate Director of the CDER Drug Shortage Staff Valerie Jensen is the first announced featured major speaker for the 2-day conference, addressing the gathering in a Program “Challenge Accepted: Delivering Next Generation Care to Patients Now.” A trained clinical pharmacist, Captain Jensen was one of the initial developers of FDA’s Drug Shortage Program and was named Associate Director in 2012. She continues to manage the Drug Shortage Staff at FDA. Joined by MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley, Velocity Clinical Research executive Steve Clemons, and USC Provost Dr. Stephen Cutler, the panel will focus on the industry’s success in to expediting development of medicine, devices, technologies and vaccines in record time and with startling efficacy – and what it means for care around the world going forward.
Captain Jensen will be joined by more than 25 additional presenters and honorees at SCBIO 2022, which brings together leaders and executives from life science organizations across the nation to South Carolina. In deference to the pandemic, FDA protocols on safety are being rigorously adhered to and events are also being presented and distributed virtually, organizers revealed.
The conference will feature a significantly expanded exhibit hall showcasing scores of life sciences industry businesses, institutions of higher learning and essential support industry partners from across America, as well as presentation of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards by South Carolina Life Sciences to the outstanding 2021 Organization of the Year and Individual of the Year. Also to be honored with Pinnacle Awards will be an inductee into the SC Life Sciences Hall of Fame, and an award for an industry Rising Star under 40 years of age.
New SCBIO CEO James Chappell will deliver a highly anticipated “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, while hundreds of in-person and virtual attendees will 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 more details, visit the 2022 Annual Conference section at www.scbio.org. Registration and exhibiting are free to many SCBIO investors. Early bird general admission pricing provides significant discounts to interested companies, industry supporters, students interested in life sciences, faculty and teachers. Limited Exhibit space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2-day conference annually 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 early 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.
“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 James Chappell. “Already accounting for thousands of highly-skilled jobs in the Palmetto State, this sector has tremendous growth potential, and we’re excited to showcase top companies, research universities and leaders from across our state and country at SCBIO 2022.”
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, 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 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.
Nephron Pharmaceuticals continues on rapid growth curve... see more
Nephron Pharmaceuticals’ expansion is progressing as production gets underway on a spate of new business ventures — from at-home COVID-19 test kits to chemotherapy drugs.
Since 2020, the West Columbia drug maker has invested $215 million to build out its campus in Lexington County’s Saxe Gotha Industrial Park. In the past month, the company hired 1,500 new part-time workers as it ramps up production of new product lines, CEO Lou Kennedy said, bringing it to 1,200 full-time employees and 2,500 part-timers.
The hiring spree comes as Nephron produced 30 million doses of reagent for Abbott Laboratories’ at-home COVID-19 test kits last month and assembled about 1 million kits. Kennedy hopes to increase kit production to 2 million per month in January as demand for them has skyrocketed amid new variants of the deadly virus.
CSafe Global Acquires Softbox Systems to Create the Global Leader in Temperature-Controlled Shipping SolutionsGoal to be partner of choice for cold chain delivery of high value, temperature sensitive products see more
CSafe Global, the leader in temperature-controlled container solutions for the pharmaceutical industry, announced today that it has acquired Softbox Systems, a provider of passive temperature-controlled packaging solutions for the pharmaceutical, life science and cold chain logistics industries, significantly enhancing CSafe’s passive product portfolio. Together, they will provide the most comprehensive suite of thermal shipping solutions and become a one-stop-shop for all pharmaceutical cold chain shipping needs, enabling delivery of critical temperature-sensitive products, including next generation biologics, cell and gene therapy, and mRNA therapies such as the COVID-19 vaccine.
The combined company, which will operate globally under the CSafe brand, will be the only cold chain platform with an end-to-end active air cargo and passive temperature-controlled packaging business spanning the complete spectrum of cold chain shipping solutions for the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Softbox’s well-regarded brands in the passive container space, such as SilverSkin, Silverpod and Tempcell, complement CSafe’s leading active product portfolio, particularly within air cargo. The acquisition will unlock opportunities for innovation as well as enhance CSafe’s sustainable and eco-friendly offerings, with new reusable and recyclable pallet and parcel solutions.
Around the globe, a large industry pipeline of life-saving pharmaceutical therapies with strict temperature profiles is accelerating the need for reliable, temperature-controlled shipping solutions. Moreover, future pharmaceutical advances will require a new generation of qualified fit-for-purpose packaging, along with sophisticated tracking technology, that also helps customers meet their sustainability and recycling goals.
“Through this combination, we will be the partner of choice for cold chain delivery of high value, temperature sensitive pharmaceutical therapies. Both CSafe and Softbox have proven to be reliable partners for customers seeking a secure way to deliver their life-enhancing products around the world,” said Patrick Schafer, CSafe CEO. “We’re thrilled to now offer our customers a platform that provides everything from the highest quality packaging to AI-enabled thermal and kinetic monitoring and logistics management.”
“Our businesses are each rooted in a commitment to excellent customer service and high product quality, which made this combination a natural fit,” said Kevin Valentine, CEO of Softbox. “Together we will proudly continue to partner with our global Pharmaceutical customers to devise and deliver the best solutions for their evolving cold chain shipping needs, supporting the delivery of temperature sensitive lifesaving medicines and vaccines.
“With the addition of Softbox’s product portfolio, CSafe strengthens its global infrastructure across air and ground while expanding its offerings for parcel delivery, all supported by the most advanced technology infrastructure,” said Todd Abbrecht, Co-CEO of Thomas H. Lee Partners, which first invested in CSafe in 2016. “We see an incredible opportunity for the combined company to serve as the international partner of choice for cold chain shipping solutions and remain on the forefront of innovation in the industry.”
“The acquisition of Softbox advances CSafe’s strategy to be the leading cold chain solutions provider with a full suite of products and services to meet the needs of its pharmaceutical customers around the globe,” said Ben Magnano, Co-Managing Partner of Frazier Healthcare Partners. “CSafe is an excellent platform to build upon and we, alongside our partners at THL, will continue to make investments to further strengthen the Company’s leadership position in pharmaceutical cold chain.”
As part of the acquisition, Softbox CEO Kevin Valentine will assume the role of president of CSafe’s Passive Temperature Controlled Packaging Division.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Experts from Clemson, Rymedi, Diversified Medical and SCBIO address SC Manufacturing Conference see more
Before leaving his post at Louisiana Economic Development, South Carolina native James Chappell was a skeptic.
“Every state thinks they are going to succeed in life sciences,” Chappell said, unsure whether the Palmetto State has what it takes. “I started kind of doing my research, and I was blown away with all the things that have happened in South Carolina since I left, specifically in the life sciences industry. I was even more blown away by the last few days here and meeting a lot of people on this stage and the companies that have had unbelievable success, some in just a couple of years. I knew I made the right decision.”
The new SCBIO chief gestured to other life science leaders from around the state on the stage with him Thursday at the S.C. Manufacturing Conference and Expo: Rymedi’s David Stefanich, Clemson University’s Cynthia Young and Diversified Medical Healthcare’s Austin Shirley.
“Do you remember when BMW came to South Carolina? Do you remember before Boeing?” Chappell asked. “That’s what’s happening now, but it’s in the life sciences. Let’s look at that trend. If we keep doing the job that we should be doing, we can look back in 10 or 20 years, and the way people think about those manufacturers, they’ll think about the life sciences.”
SCBIO Names Louisiana Economic Development Executive James Chappell as CEO to Lead State’s Fastest-Growing IndustryGoal to “take South Carolina life sciences to an entirely new level” see more
Following a nationwide search that targeted 200 candidates in 39 states and resulted in 116 total applications from across the country, the Board of Directors of SCBIO has named James Chappell, an executive with Louisiana Economic Development, as the organization’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.
Dr. Chappell, whose career also includes time with Chartic Management Consulting in Boston, joined Louisiana Economic Development (LED) in 2013 and held positions of increasing responsibility at the organization including Executive Director of State Economic Competitiveness before being named Executive Director of Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship for the organization in 2021.
During his tenure at LED, Dr. Chappell’s numerous successes included designing and implementing the state’s $100 million venture capital and small business funds, developing strategies to recruit globally recognized companies to the state , and joining the Louisiana MediFund board to develop strategies to increase the biosciences and healthcare industries in Louisiana. He also collaborated with bioscience and technology advocates to improve incentives to promote growth in the bioscience and technology industries.
Dr Chappell earned his B.S. and M.S. in Plant Environmental Sciences from Clemson University, his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Stem Cell Biology focusing on cancer and diabetes from Harvard Medical School. A three-year varsity football letterman while at Clemson, he is married with two children. He will begin his new role with SCBIO starting November 8, 2021.
“SCBIO and South Carolina life sciences are excited to welcome James to lead this dynamic and forward-looking industry organization, and to help our hundreds of life sciences companies and thousands of employees and innovators take it to an entirely new level,” said Lou Kennedy, Board Chair of SCBIO and founder and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals, and a member of the search committee. “Competition for the position was extremely strong but we unanimously felt that his credentials in both life sciences and economic development were the precise mix we sought as we continue to build, advance and grow the industry in South Carolina.”
Life sciences has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 700 firms involved and over 43,000 professionals employed in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. It also represents a significant economic development focus for the state, led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and other regional economic development teams.
South Carolina life sciences has seen a near-doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to data provided by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, state research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
“As a South Carolina native, I am thrilled to join SCBIO and return home. South Carolina has become an emerging leader in life sciences, and I am excited to continue SCBIO’s great work in helping to grow the life sciences industry,” noted Dr. Chappell.
Ms. Kennedy went on to thank SCBIO Interim CEO Erin Ford for her critical contributions in leading the organization during the search process, which began in May with the resignation of prior CEO Sam Konduros.
“Erin continued to do a strong and stellar job in leading the organization, charting the path, and maintaining the momentum without missing a beat during this national search, and our board and membership are grateful to her. The entire board and SCBIO membership are excited that she will remain a key part of the organization in her prior role of Executive Vice President and COO to add a steady and experienced hand to crafting an exciting new future.”
Ms. Ford has served as primary lead for SCBIO’s business operations and finances, championing investor relations and existing industry strategies, and spearheading integrated marketing initiatives. She has managed the majority of the organization’s day-to-day requirements since joining SCBIO in 2017.
Since 2017, SCBIO has more than tripled membership and quadrupled revenues, implemented a strong economic development focus, and launched a new innovation platform. It serves as the voice of the life sciences industry, implemented a surging workforce development initiative and created ongoing programs to encourage participation by women in life sciences, to support diversity-equity-inclusion initiatives and to encourage student participation in the industry. The organization also successfully led industry and organizational pivots during the COVID pandemic. In a recent executive order, Governor Henry McMaster authorized SCBIO and the state’s Commerce Department to work together to accelerate the onshoring and repatriation of the pharmaceutical industry and vital PPE products and technologies to South Carolina.
For additional information on SCBIO, please visit www.SCBIO.org.
Arthrex expanding operations in Upstate South Carolina, Investing $100 million, Adding 500 PositionsCompany investing, adding jobs to expand capabilities see more
Arthrex, an orthopedic technology innovator, today announced plans to expand operations in Anderson County. The more than $100 million investment will create 500 new jobs.
Founded in 1981, Arthrex is a global leader in orthopedic surgical device design, research, manufacturing and medical education. The company develops and releases more than 1,000 innovative products and surgical procedures each year to advance minimally invasive orthopedics worldwide.
Located at 130 Arthrex Drive in Pendleton, Arthrex’s expansion will include adding a second manufacturing facility and an Electron-beam (E-beam) and X-ray sterilizations facility.
The expansion is expected to be completed by mid-2023. Individuals interested in joining the Arthrex team should visit the company’s careers webpage.
“This investment will help Arthrex better support the growth and development of new and innovative products that help surgeons treat their patients better. Arthrex has been committed to manufacturing quality products in the United States, and this represents that continued commitment.” -Arthrex Vice President of Manufacturing Andy Owen
“I congratulate Arthrex on this more than $100 million investment in our state. The 500 new jobs this expansion is generating will make a big difference in Anderson County, and we look forward to watching this great company continue to thrive here for years to come.” -Gov. Henry McMaster
“Arthrex is on the cutting edge of orthopedic innovation and is a leader in our state’s booming life sciences sector. Today’s announcement by Arthrex not only proves that South Carolina has the business environment where life sciences companies can succeed, but that we have the talented workforce in place to handle the most innovative jobs. Team S.C. congratulates Arthrex on their continued success.” -Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey III
“Our partnership with Arthrex is succeeding beyond anyone’s expectations. They showed a lot of faith in our community when they began their journey with us a few short years ago, and today’s announcement indicates the level of confidence they have in our workforce. These jobs will improve the lives of hundreds of Anderson County families, and I am truly thankful.” -Anderson County Councilman Brett Sanders, District 4
FIVE FAST FACTS
- Arthrex is expanding operations in Anderson County.
- The more than $100 million investment will create 500 new jobs.
- Arthrex is an orthopedic surgical device company.
- Located at 130 Arthrex Drive in Pendleton, S.C.
- Individuals interested in joining the Arthrex team should visit the company’s careers webpage.
SCBIO takes aim at growing the presence of women in the life sciences industry see more
While COVID-19 brought the life sciences industry squarely into the world’s spotlight, the industry has been growing rapidly around the globe — and here in South Carolina — for quite some time. From gene editing and stem cell research to health data analytics and telemedicine, amazing advances in next generation pharmaceuticals and vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, digital health, bio-agriculture and more are reshaping our world, while also saving and improving lives.
Life sciences in South Carolina are on a growth spurt accelerated by the pandemic. The number of firms in the industry has doubled since 2017, making it the fastest-growing industry sector in the state. The Moore School of Business estimated its annual economic impact at $12 billion and over 43,000 employees — even before COVID’s surge of growth.
To fully realize the opportunity that life sciences represent for South Carolina, the Board of Directors of SCBIO have placed a priority on increasing diversity and inclusion in the industry here at home — with action replacing perfunctory policies. Those efforts are bearing fruit.
As the official life sciences industry organization for South Carolina, SCBIO has implemented a range of commitments, actions, and programs to encourage advancement for individual women and minorities, cultivate the next generations of female leaders, and strengthen and deepen the bench of talented women workers and leaders in organizations statewide.
Among SCBIO’s numerous initiatives are:
Leading by Example – Besides my role as Interim CEO, women comprise some 25% of SCBIO’s board of directors today, which is led by a female Board Chairman, Lou Kennedy, CEO and Founder of Nephron Pharmaceuticals. The Board has also launched a new Life Sciences Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council to support leadership development of women and minorities. The 2021-2022 SCBIO Strategic Plan for SC Life Sciences has an entire section dedicated to encouraging expanded women and minority participation in the industry.
Relationship Building – Lt. Governor Pamela Evette, Chief External Affairs Officer for MUSC Caroline Brown, and Vikor Scientific’s Partner & Co-Founder Shea Harrelson are a few of many visible leaders actively encouraging young women to expand relationships across life sciences. This network of women leaders is deep and growing, consisting of female leaders in education, manufacturing, logistics, research, medicine, government, economic development and more who reach out to support each other’s development, share ideas, problem solve and encourage skill growth.
Supporting Career Choice for Young Women – Life science jobs are not just for M.D.s and Ph.Ds, but for technical college graduates, engineers, and biology and chemistry majors as well. With an average life sciences position paying $79,000 here, SCBIO is promoting the industry as a career path to students, guidance counselors and parents at the K-12 and two- and four-year college levels. It is also developing an industry-advocated curriculum for technical colleges covering industry prescribed manufacturing processes, safety and technical protocols, soft skills and more. A recent statewide Young Women in Life Sciences ZOOM drew over 500 high school attendees from dozens of schools across the state to learn about careers in life sciences.
Connecting Young Women – Via events and community outreach such as Virtual Meetups for women in the industry and a Women in Life Sciences Visit with our Lt. Governor, SCBIO is connecting women at all levels of life sciences organizations across the state to share information on career paths, leading teams, personal development, handling difficult conversations, encouraging innovation and more to help them connect and learn together — and encourage others they know to consider the industry as a career path.
Establishing New Partnerships – New partnerships such as serving as Presenting Sponsor of Furman University’s Women’s Leadership Institute and providing scholarships at the BMW-SYNNEX 2021 Women’s Executive Luncheon create new opportunities to have life sciences as a visible part of the discussion.
Now more than ever, women in life sciences are leading the way to the industry’s rapid growth and expansion in South Carolina… and around the world. Here at home, SCBIO is working to inspire women of all ages to choose, grow and thrive in this dynamic industry by relying on, inspiring and supporting each other to attain even greater levels of success.
The future is bright and getting even brighter as more women step up to lead the way to a brighter tomorrow.
Two life sciences companies make list for SCRA support see more
Advent Innovations, LLC and DPX Technologies, LLC have been accepted as South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) Member Companies and awarded grant funding. Parimer Scientific, LLC and Prewrite, Inc. have been accepted as Member Companies. As Member Companies, they will receive coaching, access to experts in SCRA’s Resource Partner Network, eligibility to apply for grant funding, and the potential to be considered for an investment from SCRA’s affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.
Advent Innovations Limited Company has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company and awarded a $50,000 Federal Matching Grant. The University of South Carolina-affiliated startup provides services in modeling, analysis, design, and product development using cutting-edge research with novel sensors, big data analytics, and other smart technology such as robotics. Their customers include private corporations and government entities in aerospace, automotive, civil infrastructure, and energy.
DPX Technologies, LLC has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company and awarded a $50,000 Federal Matching Grant. The University of South Carolina-affiliated company manufactures sample lab preparation products and develops custom methods for a diverse client base. Their proprietary and patented INTip™ technologies provide efficient, automated solutions for laboratories that are easy to customize and implement with any workflow or method.
Parimer Scientific, LLC has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company. The Easley-based company provides turn-key laboratory services at competitive rates to biotech and pharmaceutical companies with no upfront capital or long-term commitment needed. In 2020 alone, more than 10,000 units of pharmaceutical products were made at Parimer and shipped directly to the end-users at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes.
Prewrite, Inc. has been accepted as an SCRA Member Company. The Greenville-based startup offers a story development platform for writers, producers, and content creators of all types. Their powerful tool ensures the writer is using good story fundamentals. Stories of any complexity are easily built, piece-by-piece. Originally designed for screenplays, Prewrite is used around the world by professionals and amateurs alike.
SCRA welcomes these new Member Companies!
Grant funding is made possible, in part, by Industry Partnership Fund (IPF) contributions that fuel the state’s innovation economy. Contributors to the IPF receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit, making it an easy and effective way to help one of the fastest growing segments of the South Carolina economy. Grant funding for Member Companies creates a direct, positive economic effect and job creation.
Chartered in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, nonprofit corporation, South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) fuels South Carolina’s innovation economy through the impact of its four programs. SC Academic Innovations provides funding and support to advance translational research and accelerate the growth of university-based startups. SC Facilities offers high-quality laboratory and administrative workspaces for technology-based startups and academic institutions. SC Industry Solutions facilitates and funds partnerships between and among startups, industry, and academia. SC Launch mentors and funds technology-based startups that may also receive investments from SCRA’s investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.
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.
Xcelerate, Inc. Signs Definitive Memorandum of Understanding with HS Pharmaceuticals, LLC of South CarolinaGreenville company enters MOU with global player see more
Xcelerate, Inc. (OTC pink sheets: "XCRT") today announced that it has signed a Definitive Memorandum of Understanding with HS Pharmaceuticals, LLC of Greenville, SC defining the terms under which Xcelerate, Inc. will acquire 100% of the membership interests in HS Pharmaceuticals, LLC as well as a 51% interest in HS Cosmetics, Inc.
The DMOU calls for the drafting and signing of an Acquisition Agreement with a pre-determined valuation of HS Pharmaceuticals as well as the raising of capital sufficient to progress the development of HS Pharmaceuticals IP and to fulfill the expansion of the current HS Cosmetics marketing plan launched in April of 2021.
"Since the announcement of a letter of intent with HS Pharmaceuticals in May, the teams at Xcelerate and HS have been working to define the terms that have resulted in this DMOU and were able to agreement with the assistance of our advisors at Network1 Financial who will be working with us going forward in our capital raising efforts" said Michael O'Shea, Xcelerate CEO."
"Xcelerate remains focused on joining early-stage medical technology companies in a setting of controlled clinical care where these new developments can be trialed, tested and applied," said O'Shea.
For more information, please visit www.xcelerate.global.
Emergency room expansion now underway see more
Compliments of GSA Business Report
Prisma Health this week began the official construction phase of a $13 million expansion for its emergency department at Prisma Health Oconee Memorial Hospital in Seneca.
The expansion will more than double the space available to treat patients from 8,400 square feet to 21,500 square feet, according to a news release.
“With this expansion, we will be able to provide for increased patient volumes, allow for upgraded equipment and technology while caring for patients in a healing and comfortable environment,” Hunter Kome, Prisma Health Oconee Memorial Hospital CEO, said in the news release. “This expansion will give us the capacity to care for this community for years to come.”
Prisma Health and community members celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony, with construction beginning right away and a schedule that calls for completion in 2023. The work will include 25 new individual treatment rooms, advanced technology and equipment and more space for doctors and nurses, according to the release.
“This would not be possible without support from our local businesses and residents,” Cortni Nations, manager of the Oconee Memorial Hospital Foundation, said in the release. “Members of our community have come together to raise more than $700,000 toward our million-dollar goal. We are grateful for the teamwork that has made tremendous progress on a big goal.”
Prisma Health Oconee Memorial Hospital typically cares for about 40,000 patients in its emergency department area each year and the expansion will provide capacity to see up to 55,000 patients annually, the release said.
With 18 hospitals and more than 300 physician practice sites, not-for-profit Prisma Health is the largest health care system in South Carolina.
Development is the largest agriculture-based Opportunity Zone project in the nation see more
Environmental permitting is underway for the Agriculture-Technology Campus in Hampton County, with a goal of starting operations at the indoor farming supersite by the end of next year.
The $314 million development is being billed as the largest agriculture-based Opportunity Zone project in the nation. Its announcement last September at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus off Interstate 95 in Early Branch attracted hundreds of boosters, including the nation’s top farm official at the time in Sonny Perdue — the agriculture chief under former President Donald Trump.
Thing have been relatively quiet since then, but plenty of work has been taking place behind the scenes, said Kay Maxwell, marketing manager for the Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance.
She said a group of precision farming specialists from the Netherlands spent months conducting studies at the industrial park to determine how greenhouses there can get the maximum benefit from sunlight, humidity and other weather conditions. The Netherlands is the world’s second-leading agricultural exporter, behind the United States, and has pioneered indoor growing techniques that use little water or soil and no pesticides.
More traditional studies — such as wetlands permitting and geotechnical engineering — are now taking place, Maxwell said. The alliance also is marketing the project to companies interested in either growing crops at the property or using an onsite packaging and distribution center to deliver South Carolina-grown products to store shelves.
“We have talked to companies as far as Europe and Asia, as well as a lot of domestic companies, that are very interested in South Carolina because of this project,” Maxwell said. “There are a lot of different avenues in which other companies can be involved.”
While the Ag-Tech Campus has five years to qualify for state and local tax credits, Maxwell said she expects some operations will begin much sooner.
The project also qualifies for a $7 million rural infrastructure grant from the state that would pass through Hampton County Council, though none of the funds have been released to date, according to the S.C. Commerce Department.
The Ag-Tech Campus is a partnership between Columbia-based finance group GEM Opportunity Fund and a trio of food and packaging firms that will grow produce in environmentally controlled greenhouses at the 1,000-acre site.
Zeb Portanova, chief executive of GEM, said in a March 30 interview with Fundviews Podcast that he had recently submitted a financing package for the project with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The agency is providing grants for Opportunity Zone projects, which are also eligible for federal tax breaks and fall under a program designed to encourage investment in low-income urban and rural communities.
Portanova has said the Ag-Tech Campus will create roughly 1,500 jobs by 2025. Another GEM project — a $30 million hemp growing and processing facility — will be nearby. Maxwell said greenhouses are already being constructed for the latter project, which is expected to create 107 jobs, and start operations by the end of this year.
More than $19 million in grants to several key connected health projects see more
The federal government is investing more than $19 million in key telehealth initiatives, including the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) and Telehealth Centers of Excellence (COE) program.
Some 36 awards are being distributed by the Health and Human Services Department through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth to some of the nation’s highest-profile connected health projects. The investments are aimed at strengthening programs and supporting innovation in areas that have seen record adoption and growth during the pandemic.
“Telehealth expands access to care and is a vital tool for improving health equity by providing timely clinical assessment and treatment for our most vulnerable populations,” HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa said in a press release issued this morning. “This funding will help drive the innovation necessary to build clinical networks, educational opportunities, and trusted resources to further advance telehealth.”
The TRC consortium, which consists of 12 regional and two national centers, is getting $4.55 million – or $325,000 per site - to bolster and expand their efforts. The TRCs, which provide a wide range of guidance and resources, have seen heavy traffic over the past year and a half as healthcare providers and other organizations have adopted telehealth to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The Telehealth COE program, meanwhile, is getting $6.5 million to expand services and strategies aimed at improving access and outcomes in underserved parts of the country that deal with high chronic care needs and poverty, and to serve as incubators for new telehealth ideas. Located in academic medical centers, COEs are seen as national models for evidence-based programs and strategies that promote best practices.
In 2017, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) were designated Telehealth Centers of Excellence. The award is being split between the two programs.
The Evidence-Based Direct-to-Consumer Telehealth Network Program (EB-TNP) is getting roughly $3.8 million to bolster its DTC telehealth efforts. Those awards are being issued to 11 organizations: HealthHIE Georgia, Cornerstone Whole Healthcare in Idaho, Drake University in Iowa, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Baptist Health Foundation Corbin in Kentucky, MaineHealth, UMMC, Lester E. Cox Medical University in Missouri, the Ben Archer Health Center in New Mexico, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Texas A&M University.
Finally, the Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program (TTELP) is getting about $4.28 million to “help specialists at academic medical centers provide training and support to primary care providers in rural, frontier, and other underserved areas to help treat patients with complex conditions ranging from long COVID to substance use disorders in their communities.”
Those awards are going to nine organizations: Community Health Center in Connecticut, the American Academy of Pediatrics in Illinois, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Medical Care Development in Maine, the JSI Research and Training Institute in Massachusetts, President and Fellows of Harvard College in Massachusetts, the University of New Mexico, Oregon Health & Science University and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust.
Charles River Labs quietly continues its critical work to save lives see more
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — It’s one of the stranger, lesser-known aspects of U.S. health care — the striking, milky-blue blood of horseshoe crabs is a critical component of tests to ensure injectable medications such as coronavirus vaccines aren’t contaminated.
To obtain it, harvesters bring many thousands of the creatures to laboratories to be bled each year, and then return them to the sea — a practice that has drawn criticism from conservationists because some don’t survive the process.
The blood, which is blue due to its copper content, is coveted for proteins used to create the LAL test, a process used to screen medical products for bacteria. Synthetic alternatives aren’t widely accepted by the health care industry and haven’t been approved federally, leaving the crabs as the only domestic source of this key ingredient.
Many of these crabs are harvested along the coast of South Carolina, where Gov. Henry McMaster promoted the niche industry as key to the development of a domestic medical supply chain, while also noting that environmental concerns should be explored.
“We don’t want to have to depend on foreign countries for a lot of reasons, including national security, so it’s good to see this company thriving in the United States,” McMaster told The Associated Press. He spoke this month during a visit to Charles River Laboratories at its Charleston facilities, to which AP was granted rare access. “We want to do everything we can to onshore all of these critical operations.”
Horseshoe crabs — aquatic arthropods shaped like helmets with long tails — are more akin to scorpions than crabs, and older than dinosaurs. They’ve been scurrying along the brackish floors of coastal waters for hundreds of millions of years. Their eggs are considered a primary fat source for more than a dozen species of migratory shore birds, according to South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources.
Their value to avoiding infection emerged after scientists researching their immune response injected bacteria into horseshoe crabs in the 1950s. They ultimately developed the LAL test, and the technique has been used since the 1970s to keep medical materials and supplies free of bacteria.
Their biomedical use has been on the rise, with 464,482 crabs brought to biomedical facilities in 2018, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
In South Carolina, that’s done only by Charles River, a Massachusetts-based company that tests 55% of the world’s injectables and medical devices — like IV bags, dialysis solutions and even surgical cleaning wipes, according to company officials.
“We are almost the last line of defense before these drugs leave the manufacturing area and make it to a patient,” senior vice president Foster Jordan told McMaster. “If it touches your blood, it’s been tested by LAL. And, more than likely, it’s been tested by us.”
Charles River employs local fishermen to harvest the crabs by hand, a process governed by wildlife officials that can only happen during a small annual window, when the creatures come ashore to spawn.
Contractors bring them to the company’s bleeding facilities, then return them to the waters from which they came. During a year, Jordan said his harvesters can bring in 100,000 to 150,000 horseshoe crabs, and still can’t satisfy the growing demand.
“We need more, though,” Jordan told McMaster, adding that his company is working with the state to open up more harvesting areas. “The population’s steady. ... We need access to more beaches, to get more crabs.”
The practice is not without its critics, some of whom have argued that bleeding the crabs and hauling them back and forth is harmful. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 10% to 15% of harvested crabs die during the process.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the species overall as “vulnerable,” noting decreasing numbers as of a 2016 assessment. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission listed 2019 stock as “good” in the Southeast, but “poor” in areas around New York.
Conservationists sued last year, accusing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of shirking its duty to protect areas including South Carolina’s Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge by allowing horseshoe crab harvesting. They argued that taking out the crabs affects other species in the protected area. A federal judge temporarily halted the harvest, but was reversed following Charles River’s appeal.
The environmental groups asked to withdraw their complaint this month after federal officials imposed a permitting process for any commercial activity in the refuge, including horseshoe harvesting, beginning Aug. 15. Even if such permits are denied, Jordan told McMaster that only 20% of its harvest came from the refuge, with most coming from further down the South Carolina coast.
There is a synthetic alternative to the horseshoe crab blood, but it hasn’t been widely accepted in the U.S., and meanwhile, Charles River’s international competitors are making synthetics and also pressing for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, which Jordan said could hamper domestic efforts like his own.
“My mission is to make sure that any competitor that comes into the United States, from China or any of these other producers, has to go through the same regulatory process that we had to go through, to make sure that it’s safe,” Jordan said. “If all these synthetics start coming in from other countries, we’re going to lose the protection that we’ve had for all these years, and the safety, and the control of the drug supply.”
“We want to have as much stuff made here as we can,” McMaster said in response.
As for the environmental concerns, the governor said maintaining a healthy balance between scientific demands and the state’s ecosystems, which bolster a significant portion of South Carolina’s tourism economy, is paramount.
“It’s like a house of cards. You pull out one part, and the rest of it will fall,” McMaster said. “So I think we have to be very careful, and be sure that any company, any business, any activity, whether it’s commercial or otherwise, meets whatever requirements are there to protect the species — birds, horseshoe crabs, any sort of life.”
Exciting new development from MUSC co-founded technology see more
SpheroFill, a company co-founded by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) researcher William Hill, Ph.D., is helping to convert swords into plowshares with more than a quarter million dollars in funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer grant. Hill is a professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at MUSC and a research scientist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
Hill and SpheroFill are developing microsphere technology to create a unique oral drug delivery platform that will allow for protected, controlled release of drugs over time. The microsphere technology was originally created for strategic purposes by the Department of Energy at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and then converted for civilian purposes by the Applied Research Center (ARC) in Aiken, South Carolina.
The other co-founders of SpheroFill are George Wicks, Ph.D., of ARC, and ENT-otolaryngologist Paul Weinberger, M.D. Wicks co-invented the microsphere technology while at the SRNL. Together with MUSC and ARC, the three inventors have submitted a patent on the oral and other drug delivery approaches.
Hill, who serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer, is excited about the collaboration between SpheroFill, MUSC and ARC.
“The Applied Research Center is a nonprofit research and development organization established to transfer technology from the SRNL and academic institutions and to assist start-up companies where possible,” explained Hill. “It is the value of the taxpayers’ investment being amplified into novel uses that can create new jobs and expand the economy of South Carolina. ARC’s goal is to build a technology base in Aiken County and the state. Importantly, ARC has been a key initial investor for us.”
The microspheres are hollow spheres with a large cargo capacity contained by a porous silica glass outer shell. Complex nanoscale channels connect the interior cargos with the outside world.
“A microsphere is about a third the diameter of a human hair,” said Hill. “You can actually load the microspheres with different cargos, drugs in this case, and then control the release rate of materials coming out of them.”
Once in the body, the microspheres will release the drug as the outer coating degrades and the nanopores open. The technology could help pharmaceutical companies overcome a serious hurdle in developing oral drugs. Drugs taken by mouth often break down in the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal system.
“The pharmaceutical industry has a large number of drugs that are difficult to deliver orally – either because they don't dissolve very well in the aqueous system that we have in our gastrointestinal tract, or because they are very reactive and will be broken down very quickly by enzymes there,” said Hill.
By encasing the drugs, the microspheres protect them from this harsh environment and enable them to reach their target locations, where they release their contents. As a result, less drug is wasted, which is a savings for both pharmaceutical companies and consumers. This will be particularly important with expensive drugs and newer sensitive biological drugs.
The technology not only allows more efficient delivery of existing oral drugs, but it also makes possible the oral delivery of new types of drugs.
“There is also an ability to deliver drugs in ways that they never could have been delivered before, such as in gaseous form” said Hill. “We're trying to develop new ways to deliver agents that aren't really drugs now because they're just too difficult to use as drugs.”
Hill is excited by the possibilities. With the technology, he speculates that insulin could be delivered orally instead of injected under the skin. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, which typically affect the entire body, could be released directly into a tumor, helping to spare healthy tissue.
The technology could also help patients with better medication compliance. Many drugs, such as antibiotics, must be taken daily over several days. When patients begin feeling better, they may discontinue taking the medication prematurely, leading to drug resistance and other problems.
“SpheroFill allows patients to have effective drug dosing over extended time, so the patient only has to take the drug once or possibly twice,” said Hill.
At MUSC, Hill’s research team is working on testing different polymers that can serve as coatings for the microspheres, with the aim of having different drug-release rates with different coatings, ranging from days to months.
“The cool thing is that you can have microspheres with different thicknesses of coatings or entirely different coatings, which will release materials at different rates,” said Hill. “And we can mix them together to have overlapping or sequential releases of the same or different drugs for an extended period of time,” said Hill.
The team is working on controlling drug release by measuring release rates for different coatings. Once Hill and his team complete this step, they will next study how well the microspheres with the different coatings work as a drug-delivery platform, first in animals and then in humans.
Hill believes that the support from the NSF is an important milestone for Spherofill and is grateful to the MUSC Foundation for Research Development for its help with the application.
“It’s exciting to get this stamp of approval from the NSF,” said Hill. This hard-to-acquire support says that it believes the technology and the company are worth the investment to help with technical development and assistance through its strong commercialization infrastructure. This will also help to open doors for us to partners and customers.”
In addition to improving drug delivery, SpheroFill and its partners also hope to support the South Carolina economy by bringing research and development, high-tech and pharmaceutical jobs to Charleston, Aiken and other areas of the state.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson see that economic potential.
“The funding will allow SpheroFill to create advancements in the medical field, and I appreciate NSF working to help turn this into a reality,” said Graham.
Wilson, too, acknowledged the NSF’s generous funding of SpheroFill’s valuable collaboration.
“The synergy between SpheroFill, the Applied Research Center and the Savannah River National Laboratory has allowed this research to gain momentum, providing transformative opportunities in medical treatments,” said Wilson. “I am grateful that NSF recognized and rewarded the talent here in our community.”
About the Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is home to the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 2,000 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eleven hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Fairfield, Florence, Kershaw, Lancaster and Richland counties. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $4.6 billion. The more than 20,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.