South Carolina life sciences is booming, with new organizations growing and moving here see more
Comprised of 650 life sciences firms, with wages nearly double state averages and an annual economic impact over $12 billion, South Carolina life sciences employs 43,000 professionals in research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. It’s a powerful force in today’s Palmetto State economy.
The fastest growing segment of the state’s innovation economy, life sciences shows no signs of slowing — despite a global pandemic that has advanced public awareness of the vital sector.
Life sciences’ 6 major segments include pharmaceuticals/biotech (including such state organizations as Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Thorne and Thermo Fisher Scientific), medical devices/medtech (Abbott, Arthrex and AVX), Health IT/digital health (ChartSpan), research-testing-diagnostics-labs (Greenwood Genetics Center, Precision Genetics and Vikor Scientific), bioscience distribution (SoftBox Systems), and Bio-Ag. Every sector is well-represented across South Carolina, with life sciences active in at least 43 of our 46 counties.
What makes the industry even more compelling is that it averages triple the R&D spend of all other industries and is highly recession resistant due to its connectivity with healthcare. An $8 trillion annual global healthcare spend is supported by a $1.5 trillion global life sciences industry – with the United States responsible for almost half of the world’s innovations.
To help the Palmetto State become a significant player in life sciences, SCBIO was refocused 3 years ago – with economic development as the focal point. Providing support for existing industry, working with economic development organizations to recruit global life sciences companies, and developing strategies to grow our own companies has had a seismic impact on SCBIO and its stakeholders — and ushered in a new era ripe with opportunity.
Aligning with the SC Department of Commerce in 2017 helped SCBIO to triple revenue in 3 years, more than quintuple membership, develop a full-time multi-disciplinary team, and cultivate an extraordinary board of directors from industry, academia, healthcare, core service providers, and economic development partners.
SCBIO has become a catalyst for and voice of South Carolina life sciences. From offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, SCBIO represents companies in the advanced medicines, medical devices, equipment, diagnostics, IT, and healthcare outcome industries. As the official state affiliate of BIO, PhRMA and AdvaMed, SCBIO members and allies include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups.
Working with allies and partners, SCBIO created the state’s first ever SC Life Sciences Strategic Plan – now in its third iteration — to build a nationally competitive and sustainable ecosystem focused on building, advancing, innovating and growing the industry.
And innovation is the lifeblood of progress. For the state to become an innovation destination for life sciences, the effort requires relentless pursuit – of talent, of transformational ideas, of organizations bringing operations and R&D to our state, and of an enhanced ecosystem that supports existing industry while growing our own companies.
Life sciences innovation has a rich legacy in South Carolina, drawing on the notable talents and creativity of the research universities of Clemson, University of South Carolina, and MUSC… a Top 25 national health system in Prisma Health… plus South Carolina Research Authority, Greenwood Genetics Center and others whose ground-breaking work has earned South Carolina a deserved reputation as a life sciences up-and-comer.
From pioneering medical grade electrolytic capacitors that made thoracic implantable defibrillators possible at St. Jude Medical (now Abbott)… to the recent invention and introduction by MUSC, ZIAN and Rhythmlink of a novel safety electrode that has the potential to reduce needle sticks in surgical settings around the globe, South Carolina life sciences innovation is on the move.
Even facing a global pandemic, SC’s life science companies are on the front lines and performing at a high level. Entrepreneurs and academic institutions have deftly shifted focus or pivoted production to address needs resulting from the crisis. Providing everything from COVID-19 PCR test kits to antibody tests, from respiratory therapies to face shields, and from developing specialty garments for frontline workers to being selected to conduct Phase III vaccine trials in the hunt for a COVID cure, South Carolina is now a part of the global solution team.
A prime example is Columbia’s ZVerse, a digital manufacturer. Seeing desperate need for protective shields for healthcare workers, the early-stage company quickly pivoted to become one of America’s largest manufacturers of reusable face shields. ZVerse then devised a new, proprietary shield that is more comfortable to wear over long periods of time. Sales have soared.
The booming ecosystem includes technology incubators and accelerators across the state, providing entrepreneurs with guidance and opportunity to collaborate with peers. A recent SCRA initiative—the creation of the South Carolina Business Incubator Association — is an important step in helping organizations share best practices and stimulate innovation.
Along with Southeastern partners Global Center for Medical Innovation and Health Connect South, SCBIO is championing a unique innovation partnership: The Southeast HealthTech Collaboration. Leveraging complementary strengths, resources and networks, the group will identify pressing health needs in our region without requiring major new investment in infrastructure or capital.
Now a finalist for a major grant in the EDA 2020 Build to Scale Venture Challenge, the Southeast HealthTech Collaboration will launch a three-year program to:
- Convene healthcare leaders to identify top healthcare challenges and innovators working on technology-based solutions to address them;
- Accelerate best solutions through development and into commercialization; and
- Scale startups and networks to drive investment and job creation across South Carolina and Georgia.
With a focus on minority and underserved populations, the initiative will accelerate development and commercialization of technological solutions to address unmet clinical and health needs, leading to scaling of startup growth and a sustainable economic engine.
As American poet Robert Frost penned:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Despite miles to go, there is plentiful evidence that our state is “punching above our weight class”, given our relative size and resources. With innovation blossoming and a surging passion for improving prosperity, the promise of South Carolina and its future has never been brighter.
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.
Greenville-based Health IT firm Chartspan lands $15 million in funding from BIP Capital see more
One of the Upstate’s biggest entrepreneurial success stories is ready to begin its next stage of growth, and with it, the expectation of 200 to 300 more jobs over the next 24 to 36 months, almost all of them in Greenville.
With a just-closed funding round of $15 million from a syndicate led by BIP Capital, an Atlanta-based venture capital firm, ChartSpan Medical Technologies is doubling its deployed capital, for a total of $30 million.
Now, new funding in hand, ChartSpan will spend “a majority” of it to embark on a national sales and marketing strategy designed to capture an even larger share of the chronic care management market, said co-founder and CEO Jon-Michial Carter.
Founded in Houston, Texas, ChartSpan chose Greenville for its headquarters in 2013 and soon emerged as the largest managed-service provider affiliated with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) chronic care management program. Currently, ChartSpan offers technology-enabled coordination of care to the patients of 106 health systems and medical practices, most of them in the Southeast.
Working from ChartSpan’s offices at 2 N. Main St., trained clinicians assist patients with such varied needs as contacting a nurse 24/7, refilling prescriptions, accessing medical test results, making appointments, and securing transportation, with clinical data exchanged between ChartSpan’s electronic records platform and those used by hospitals and physicians.
Nationally, ChartSpan is the market leader in the space with “the largest enrolled population in the country” served by about 200 employees, Carter said.
“Last month, there were 61 million Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients, and that is the audience that we serve,” said Carter. “CMS says 72% of them are eligible for the program we run … so 45 million available patients and we have just under 30,000 patients enrolled. So, it’s this blue ocean of opportunity.”
To capitalize on such a wide-open market, Carter sought to build on prior funding rounds in a way that would allow his company to reach mid-sized status rapidly.
Ultimately, Carter chose to partner with BIP Capital, a venture capital investment firm whose focus includes health care IT, enterprise software-as-a-service, and digital media.
Founded in 2007, the firm has invested more than $300 million since inception. Its CEO, Mark Buffington, has led investment rounds in more than 35 companies, with BIP Capital offering both funding and operational recommendations.
In a brief telephone interview, Buffington said South Carolina’s Upstate fits his firm’s focus on “second-tier innovation centers” in geographic areas “not nearly as competitive as a Boston market or a Bay Area.”
“We feel there’s just tons of uncovered opportunities,” Buffington said, citing venture partnerships in place in Minneapolis; Indianapolis; and Columbus, Ohio.
BIP Capital was attracted to ChartSpan in large part due to its early understanding of the chronic care management landscape, said Austin Poole, a senior associate.
“They’d figured out the complex parts of the process, where a lot of other groups that we had looked at were still kind of in that developmental phase, and some of them thought they might have had it figured out, but a closer look said that there might be more steps before they actually got there,” Poole said during a visit to Greenville.
The $15 million deal led by BIP includes syndicate partners Blue Heron Capital of Richmond, Virginia; Bailey Southwell & Co. of Nashville, Tennessee; and Croft & Bender of Atlanta. All four members of the syndicate hold preferred stock equity stakes in ChartSpan.
“Blue Heron is interesting because their entire LP [limited partnership] structure are just former health care executives that have run large enterprise companies,” Carter noted. “So, that was obvious, the attraction for us, and we spent time with them in Richmond, and again, loved the regional focus,” Carter said.
Poole, along with BIP Vice President Sarath Degala, will operate out of Greenville’s NEXT on Main incubator and will collaborate with Carter and other ChartSpan personnel on the company’s growth while also becoming familiar with other businesses in the region.
“We expect to hold office hours, take part in pitch events, mentor entrepreneurs and companies, provide guidance in strategies and funding alternatives as well as hopefully become engrained in the VC infrastructure in the community,” Degala said via email.
John Moore, president and CEO of NEXT, believes BIP Capital’s arrival in the Upstate represents a turning point in the evolution of funding for entrepreneurs.
“One of the biggest things obviously in any ecosystem is building access to capital. … We’ve been working on that for a long time, and to see something like this happen and see BIP’s leadership, first and foremost in the investment in ChartSpan, is tremendous,” Moore said.According to Moore and Carter, BIP’s deepening commitment to the Upstate will provide a flight path to growth funding for a variety of local firms that successfully launched with seed money.
VentureSouth, which now operates 12 angel groups across the Carolinas, provides much of that early stage funding, said Matt Dunbar, one of its three managing directors. The combined group, with 320 active investors, has deployed $36 million for 67 companies since 2008.
Using preliminary data, the Angel Capital Association, a national trade group, just placed VentureSouth among the top 10 angel groups in the country in terms of dollars invested, or $7 million in 22 companies during 2018.“Matt was a resource and in some ways a mentor for me early on,” Carter remarked. “All of these things in Houston, Texas, where we came from, we would’ve got lost and drowned. We wouldn’t have had this kind of support.”
Now, Carter’s company looks set to add significantly more clients, revenues, and jobs.
“Part of what was so compelling for us about ChartSpan as an investment was, not only does it bring efficiency to the whole U.S. health care system, but also the impact that it has on the patients,” said BIP’s Austin Poole.
“Any time you’re positively impacting the end-user in that magnitude, we get excited about that,” he said.