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!
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.”
New leader for entrepreneurial organization to start in September see more
Entrepreneur Eric Weissmann has been named the new Executive Director of NEXT, an entrepreneur support organization in Greenville, SC that has impacted more than 120 companies, who in turn have raised $28 million in capital. NEXT provides connections to mentoring, capital, facilities, and access to a peer community of aspiring founders across the region.
Weissmann was part of the founding team at Cintrifuse, a similar ecosystem catalyst, in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he serves as Vice President of External Relations. Weissmann launched “StartupCincy,” an initiative that started as a simple social media hashtag and bloomed into a full-fledged, connected community. He previously worked in the marketing and creative services industries. Weissmann has helped establish the Disney Cruise Line brand leading up to the maiden voyage of the Disney Magic.
“I’m excited by the opportunity and encouraged by the amount of collaboration I already see in the Greenville community,” said Weissmann. “We’re at a unique moment in time where cities across the country are fostering entrepreneurship by leveraging their unique strengths to attract talent and dollars with the goal of increasing economic development. Greenville’s got the raw materials to make a huge impact on the region and I’m ready to get to work!”
Find Great People led a nationwide, comprehensive search. The interview committee selected Weissmann because of his extensive experience developing innovation ecosystems, supporting entrepreneurs in securing venture capital, leading diversity and inclusion programs, and supporting ventures from concept to exit.
“Eric embodies the qualities we desired in the leader of NEXT: a proven leader with experience building world-class ecosystems for start-ups and developing innovative, collaborative teams and communities where entrepreneurs can thrive,” said Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber President/CEO.
NEXT was founded in 2006 and has three locations including NEXT Innovation, NEXT on Main and NEXT Manufacturing.
“As we look to the future, NEXT has a goal of tripling investment in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that we serve,” said Scott Millwood, Chair of NEXT. “Under Weissmann’s leadership, we are confident NEXT will have the strategic and visionary leadership needed to accomplish these goals.”
The City of Greenville is an investor in NEXT, as part of its Economic Development strategy to attract small and medium sized companies that provide high wage, knowledge-based jobs. The Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC) is also an active supporter.
“NEXT is the vehicle the city utilizes to support early-stage scalable businesses,” said Greenville City Manager John McDonough. “We ‘get’ entrepreneurs and the dreams that drive them. Hiring a founder who has successfully started companies, grown companies and marketed companies, to lead the NEXT organization showcases our commitment to becoming “the place” for brilliant minds to start and grow their business.”
Weissmann is expected to begin in September.
NEXT, launched as a production of the Greenville Chamber in 2006, is an entrepreneurial support organization that attracts and helps high-impact, knowledge-based companies grow by developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem and connecting entrepreneurs to it. NEXT currently supports over 120 knowledge-based companies in Upstate South Carolina. For more information, visit www.nextsc.org
Softbox Systems the partner of choice for Pfizer vaccine see more
Greenville is the North American headquarters for Softbox, the British manufacturer of the insulated containers critical to the stability of the Pfizer vaccine.
“I consider this the start to the finish as we move into this process of trying to get enough immunity into the community,” Dr. Steve Shelton said as the dry ice-laden Softbox made a triumphant arrival at Prisma Health-Midlands, complete with pom-poms and cheering health care workers. Shelton is an emergency room physician with Prisma Health who spearheaded COVID-19 treatment efforts in the Midlands.
“I know there is a lot of anxiety about this, but I am confident in the FDA in making sure that they have approved an effective vaccine,” he said. “I feel like I am honored to be here to receive this and am doing my part to combat this disease.”
To remain effective, the vaccine must be shipped at temperatures colder than most of Antarctica, in a box with more layers than a Russian doll. The Softbox includes a top layer or “pod” of dry ice housed on top of five trays of the vaccine, which in turn, nests in a carrying box with a foam lid and temperature gauge. All this is fitted in a cardboard shipping container, according to a Dec. 3 manual from Pfizer.
Blue Eye Soft launches AI-driven imaging software see more
Blue Eye Soft, an innovative IT-solutions and software development company, announced that it has received acknowledgment from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of its pre-submission package for its proprietary artificial intelligence (AI)-driven medical imaging software, BluedocaiTM, to assist with the medical diagnosis of diseases such as COVID-19, said a press release issued by the company.
BluedocaiTM is a clinical decision support tool that uses AI-driven deep learning algorithms to assist radiologists and other healthcare professionals with fast and accurate diagnosis of diseases, such as COVID-19. BluedocaiTM has the capability to rapidly analyze chest X-rays to detect the presence of COVID-19 with >90% accuracy and may therefore help improve the efficiency and accuracy of radiology departments in the wake of the overwhelming workload caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.1
BluedocaiTM is also under development to support the medical diagnosis of other diseases such as pneumonia, pneumothorax, tuberculosis, cancer, and stroke. BluedocaiTM has the potential to be used with a variety of medical imaging technologies across different hospital settings and locations. The pioneering technology behind BluedocaiTM is based on well-established medical image processing research of Russell C Hardie, PhD and Barath Narayanan, PhD from University of Dayton, Ohio and is currently exclusively licensed by Blue Eye Soft.
In addition, Blue Eye Soft has announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security has granted the commodity classification number (ECCN ) for BluedocaiTM, clearing the pathway for Blue Eye Soft to international export. The Blue Eye Soft team believes this is an important step forward for a company rooted in South Carolina to be able to export locally developed AI-powered diagnostic technology beyond the United States with potential reach-out from around 16 countries. Srikanth Kodeboyina, CEO of Blue Eye Soft said, “Our team at Blue Eye Soft is looking forward to serving as a pivotal partner for radiology departments worldwide, helping them deliver precise and high-value patient care — even in the challenging times of this ongoing pandemic.”
Following the commodity classification of BluedocaiTM, Blue Eye Soft is awaiting FDA approval of its submission for use in clinical settings and topline readouts from ongoing BluedocaiTM pivotal trials.
There is a constant unmet need in radiology departments as imaging data continue to grow exponentially when compared with the number of available trained readers.2 AI-driven medical imaging tools have the potential to transform radiology departments in terms of enhanced productivity, increased diagnostic accuracy, more personalized treatment planning, and ultimately, improved clinical outcomes.2,3 The general principle behind AI-driven medical imaging tools is the ability to rapidly and accurately quantify and provide assessments based on the radiographic characteristics from images using deep-learning algorithms.2,3
Blue Eye Soft, a multinational corporation of South Carolina Research Authority SC Launch, U.S. Air Force Research Labs CSA cohort, and Innosphere Ventures client company, has paired its AI and computer-aided detection expertise with its fast-moving and innovative market approach to solve problems for commercial and government defense departments worldwide, the press release said.
Chartspan relocating headquarters in Greenville, SC see more
A Greenville-based healthcare technology service is changing where its employees work due to unexpected consequences of COVID-19.
ChartSpan is downsizing from its 100,000-square foot headquarters at 2 N. Main St. in downtown Greenville, into a 10,000-square foot location near Liberty Bridge.
The new space will be used mostly by the company’s executives and leadership teams, as the company moves to a remote-only call center, meaning nearly 200 employees will work from home.
ChartSpan's announcement comes as the vacancy rate in Greenville's Downtown Class A vacancy rates declined to 7.06% and its Class A office property rental rates dropped to $26.16 per square foot in second quarter 2020, according to the newly released Collier International 2020 Q2 Office Greenville-Spartanburg Report.
SCBIO salutes investor-partner Upstate Alliance on 20 great years see more
Mark Farris was working for an economic-development organization near Charlotte when he saw an ad aimed at luring companies to the Upstate. He was blown away — precisely what the Upstate SC Alliance intended with its “I Was Blown Away” marketing campaign in the late 2000s.
“At the time, with the regional efforts that were underway then, that seemed the most effective way to market, and I felt they really hit the target,” Farris, now president and CEO of the Greenville Area Development Corp., says of those slick commercials.
“They” are the members of Upstate SC Alliance, the 10-county public-private partnership that marks its 20th anniversary this year. These days, John Lummus, its third president and CEO, oversees a $3 million annual budget with counties paying 50 cents per resident — and seeing a handy return on those dues.
In April, for instance, Spartanburg County announced Keurig Dr Pepper’s $350 million investment in a coffee roasting and packaging operation in Moore, expected to create 500 new jobs.
“From the perspective of what we do, what we’re supposed to be doing for the Upstate, that would be a great example,” Lummus says, adding: “We don’t take credit for projects. We’re just on the front end of the funnel.”
In 2014, Lummus took over from Hal Johnson, who became alliance president in 2005 and is now chief development officer at the NAI Earle Furman real estate company. Before Johnson, Sam Konduros served as the group’s first chief executive.
Around 2000, Konduros says, corporate execs and government policymakers embraced the idea of a marketing organization with a broader economic-development scope.
“With a rapidly evolving global economy, we needed at least to harness the energy of the entire Upstate and not have our counties just kind of going it alone or even necessarily competing with each other,” he says.
Konduros is now president and CEO of the SCBIO life-sciences industry association, headquartered on Woodruff Road in Greenville. He started the nonprofit Upstate SC Alliance with a staff of two. Lummus today oversees an 11-member crew in a plush office suite just off Verdae Boulevard.
When Lummus became chief executive, 375 international companies called the Upstate home. Today, that figure stands at 510, according to the organization whose tagline is “Business Moves Here.”
A high-water mark came in 2008, when the organization’s then-treasurer and now state Commerce Department Secretary Bobby Hitt told members the “Blown Away” campaign worked. That same year saw $2 billion in investments, including BMW’s $750 million expansion.
Looking forward, Lummus sees a two-fold approach to marketing the region: going after smaller so-called “middle-market projects” because companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $100 million are presenting better and more recruitment opportunities; and attracting talent.
The group’s new ‘Move Up’ initiative, for instance, showcases such local amenities as bicycle trails, food trucks and sunshine — aimed at workers to fill 200,000 unique jobs that 10,000 employers posted in the Upstate last year.
Erin Ford served as the alliance’s business recruitment officer from 2012 to 2015. Today, she works with Konduros as SCBIO’s vice president. She calls Lummus and his staff the “storytellers of the Upstate.”
Without them, she says, “company executives would have no idea the wonderful things that are here in the Upstate region.”
South Carolina makes its three-city debut on the Surge Cities list see more
Today, Greenville, SC debuts on the Surge Cities list at No. 33--one of three South Carolina cities, including Charleston and Columbia, to appear on the list for the first time. Each has drawn on unique strengths to build its startup scene, but all three also benefit from one another's success. Greenville's turnaround began 25 years ago when city leaders began aggressively recruiting manufacturers to tap into the city's underemployed workforce and tax incentives. Click here to read the full article, compliments of Inc. Magazine.
South Carolina Life Sciences Conference to Feature J&J Innovation Leader Michal Preminger, Over 40 National SpeakersSCBIO 2019 Conference Draws Speakers, Takes Center Stage October 29-31 see more
Conference registrations soar with sell-out expected; CEOs and top industry leaders from 30 states and countries expected in Greenville for strategic partnership development, industry insights
SOUTH CAROLINA – September 11, 2019 – Johnson & Johnson Innovation Leader Michal Preminger will join more than 40 additional national speakers at SCBIO 2019 – the annual conference bringing top leaders and executives from life sciences organizations across the state and nation to South Carolina October 29-31.
Following an October 29 welcome reception showcasing downtown Greenville, Ms. Preminger will address an expected sold-out conference at the Hyatt Regency with a keynote presentation entitled “Innovation for a Better Tomorrow” as the main program gets underway the morning of October 30. Her presentation will be followed by a high-powered panel comprised of regional healthcare executives entitled “Optimizing the Future of Healthcare in SC and Beyond.”
Among other featured Conference programs are EY’s “NextWave Wellness: An Interactive View of the Future of Our Industry”, and an address by South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette entitled “South Carolina: Just Right for Life Sciences.” Clemson University President Jim Clements headlines Day 2 with an address entitled “The Power of Partnerships in Fueling Life Sciences”, while Medtronic global executive Christian Howell will address “Driving Value-Based Care Through Collaboration".
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 have already registered to attend SCBIO 2019, with registration nearly doubling the record-setting pace of 2018. Other committed speakers and panelists include IQVIA Institute of Health Data Science SVP Murray Aitken, Innova Therapeutics CEO and Founder Robert Ryan, ChartSpan CEO & Founder Jon-MIchial Carter, Firststring Research President Dr. Gautam Ghatnekar, Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy, USC President (Ret.) Harris Pastides, PhRMA Senior Regional Director Thomas Hardaway and numerous others. More than 20 programs will be featured over two days.
Themed “Ignite The Future!”, the 2+ day conference draws attendees from across America for networking, innovation updates, opportunity discovery, partnership making and strategic discussion. Committed attendees include officials across a broad spectrum of life sciences industries including medical devices, bio manufacturing, drug discovery, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and testing, digital health and health IT, bio-ag and more. Space is limited and advance registration is still available at https://www.scbio.org/cpages/register-now-for-scbio-2019.
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 670 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.
SCBIO 2019 kicks off Tuesday evening October 29 with a Grand Opening Reception for conference registrants, speakers and sponsors at Greenville’s ONE Center, presented by Prisma Health. Wednesday will feature a complete day of sessions beginning at breakfast and continuing through an evening reception presented by the Greenville Area Development Corp., Greenwood Partnership Alliance and City of Greenville. The conference will conclude Thursday at lunchtime.
“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 showcase the top companies, research universities and leaders from across our state and country at SCBIO 2019.”
Among leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating in the conference are Nephron Pharmaceutical, BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, Medpoint, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, SoftBox Systems, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher 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, the Upstate SC Alliance, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Central Carolina Alliance, Economic Development Partnership and SiMT.
As the official state affiliate of BIO -- the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology organizations – along with 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, visit www.SCBIO.org.