Greenville's Humimic Medical pivots to meet pandemic needs see more
When the coronavirus pandemic left businesses around the nation struggling with dwindling orders and growing bills, some took a chance on something new.
Among them was Greenville-based Humimic Medical.
The 10-year-old company produces synthetic gels that mimic human tissue used in medical applications. Almost overnight, it switched to producing personal protective equipment (PPE), illustrating that there are opportunities everywhere for people with innovative ideas.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing and the path was punctuated by a couple of Hail Mary passes, said Humimic founder and CEO Joel Edwards.
“None of our (products) had any ties with PPE or any Covid-related things … and everything was going pretty well,” he said. “We thought we were bulletproof.”
Then the phones stopped ringing, he said. There were no orders for three months.
Edwards spoke at the first of a series of webinars called “Leading Beyond the Crisis” that examines companies that responded to the pandemic. The webinars are hosted by InnoVision Awards, a grass roots non-profit dedicated to innovation and technology across the state.
Originally a defense industry company, Humimic began to focus on the medical side about four years ago, he said.
And in the face of the virus, it started looking at what else it could do, he said.
Since the company had a plastics supplier in Mount Pleasant and had just bought some new equipment, it turned to face shields when the virus exposed the desperate need for PPE, he said.
“We thought raw product (plastic, foam) was easy to come by, but when we started looking around, none were easy to secure,” he said. “And I’m running numbers in my head and thinking what did I get myself into.”
His contact in Mount Pleasant was his “only saving grace.” Then the elastic supply dried up.
“So we said, heck, Velcro is readily available,” he said. “And we started to get as much as we could get our hands on.”
The first shield the company made had straps that weren’t long enough to fit most men’s heads, he said. But once that problem was solved, it did an initial run of 500, he said.
Company officials thought they’d sell their shields for $4 to $4.50, he said. But with the Chinese selling theirs for $2 to $3, he wondered how the company could potentially make a profit and keep everyone employed.
“It was a hard thing for us to get people to understand. We were not looking to gouge the market and get rich,” Edwards said. “But our cost for the plastic was two to three times what Chinese were charging.”
In the end, he said, with no assembly line experience, the company had to produce 1,500 a day to make about $1 profit per shield.
“We knew price was going to be a hard thing,” he said. “The only way we were able to do it was to scoop up the plastic.”
As other suppliers ran out of stock, Humimic found markets at veterans’ centers, VA hospitals, dentist offices, nursing homes and mortuaries.
In the end, the company was able to produce some 80,000 shields sold around the country on Amazon and Walmart websites, Edwards said.
He said Humimic still has several thousand shields in stock, but it came out OK even though orders for PPE are slowing down.
If Covid flares up this winter, he said, the need might grow again.
Charleston, Vikor Scientific featured in national media see more
Empty hotel rooms, half-full offices, and shuttered retail. The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the most established commercial real estate asset classes, creating short-term financial crunches and raising long-term secular concerns as remote work is tested and e-commerce rates rise.
Other asset classes, once alternatives, have become institutional investing gold standard. Logistics assets such as warehouses are providing a punch to the portfolio of the world’s largest landlord, Blackstone.
As industrial real estate investing becomes more crowded, and many of the other large asset classes slump, attention is turning to life sciences real estate — or space that’s used by pharmaceutical and biotech companies for research, development, and even manufacturing of new diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines.
The life science industry had been growing rapidly before the pandemic, attracting $17.4 billion in venture capital funding in 2019, up 370% from $3.7 billion in 2008, according to a Cushman & Wakefield report. Funding has continued to pour into the sector, even as coronavirus has slowed down venture funding overall, creating demand for more lab space.
MUSC has multi-billion-dollar impact on South Carolina... see more
A new report shows the Medical University of South Carolina has an annual economic impact on the state of about $5.6 billion. MUSC Health CEO Patrick Cawley, M.D., knows where a big part of the credit lies. “MUSC Health has grown significantly in the past 18 months and this report details the growing economic impact across the entire state of South Carolina.”
In early 2019, MUSC bought four hospitals in Lancaster, Florence, Marion and Chester, creating a regional hospital network and establishing itself as a health care organization that reaches well beyond Charleston.
Joseph Von Nessen, Ph.D., a research economist at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, led the six-month economic impact study. “MUSC maintains a unique and sizeable statewide economic footprint. Its impact in Charleston may already be well known, but it’s also important to recognize that MUSC’s economic benefits extend well beyond the borders of the Tri-county region.”
For example: “About 38,000 people in South Carolina can attribute their jobs either directly or indirectly to the activities that are going on at MUSC every day. It really shows how significant MUSC’s impact is,” Von Nessen said.
Zverse honored in national competition see more
Columbia-based digital manufacturing company ZVerse has won a national design award for its ZShield Flex.
The ZShield, designed and manufactured by Columbia-based ZVerse, has won a national design award for innovation. (Photo/Provided)
The face shield, designed and produced by ZVerse, has been named an Innovation by Design Awards winner by business magazine Fast Company. The awards, in their ninth year, recognize creative, problem-solving innovations and have included winners such as Spotify, Google and Disney+.
The shields feature lightweight visors that clip around the wearer’s neck, making the shield comfortable for all-day wear. ZVerse’s computer assisted design platform creates custom, manufacturable 3D files that are returned to clients for production, enabling an invention to quicky go from idea to reality.
“We need innovative design more than ever, and the 2020 honorees have brought creativity, inventiveness, and humanity to address some of the world's most pressing problems, including the global pandemic, racial injustice, and economic inequality,” Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, said in a news release. “Together these entries offer a glimpse into a future that is more inclusive, more accessible, and more just.”
The ZShield Flex won in the Workplace category and also received an honorable mention in the Best Design of North America category alongside companies such as Microsoft, Google and Logitech. A complete list of winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are featured online and in the October-November issue of Fast Company, on newsstands Oct. 20.
In March, ZVerse founder and CEO John Carrington adapted the company’s business model to accelerate the mass production of face shields in response to a health care community struggling to deal with the COVID-19 health crisis. The company tested more than a dozen designs before settling on the ZShield, focused initially on the needs of health care workers before being adapted in partnership with industrial designer Scott Henderson for everyday use.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we recognized our unique role in the world as great enablers of digital manufacturing, and we pivoted to become one of the largest producers of face shields to serve our country’s urgent need for PPE,” Carrington said in the release. “After launching with ZShield Health, we brought on Scott Henderson to reimagine the traditional face shield design and create a product that would be comfortable for a variety of work environments as well as everyday life. Going to market with such a novel design and seeing it in use by so many people and industries has been a humbling experience. We’re honored to be recognized by Fast Company for our work; it’s truly been a labor of love.”
To date, ZVerse has produced more than four million shields, nearly tripling its workforce. Notable users include television and film production companies, Disney, Chick-fil-A, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Walgreens, according to the release.
“When ZVerse originally contacted me about collaborating, I immediately realized how historic this moment was and felt an urgent need to help with the project,” Henderson said. “Prior to COVID-19, face shields weren't considered an essential accessory outside of the healthcare and medical science industry. After a century of little innovation in regard to face shield design, I am so proud of our team for applying out-of-the-box critical thinking to create this new option for PPE.”
Belimed Steam Sterilizers now announced compatible for crisis strategy decontamination of specific single-use N95 respiratorsBelimed collaborating with 3M manufacturing see more
Courtesy of Lowcountry Biz SC
Can N95 respirators be decontaminated in a steam sterilization cycle for reuse in situations of severe personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage? That question has been explored through collaboration between a world-leading respirator manufacturer, 3M, and a global leader in sterilization solutions, Belimed.
“The expert team at 3M was open-minded and very supportive in evaluating this question,” says Markus Auly, Head of Scientific Affairs at Belimed. “After two rounds of testing six different respirator models steam-treated by Belimed, and a thorough technical analysis of the data, 3M felt confident in the compatibility of the process with certain respirator models.”
3M’s latest version of the Technical Bulletin confirms that one standard 250° F sterilization cycle in Belimed Medical Steam Sterilizer models MST-H or MST-V does not compromise the form, fit, and function of their flat-fold respirators.
The benefit of evaluating and confirming compatibility with this standard steam sterilization process is that it is the gold standard among decontamination technologies because of its high microbiocidal efficacy, even in the presence of residual soils. From a resource standpoint, it is safe to use due to freedom from toxic residues, easy to administer, and has low processing costs, using only water and electricity.
Steam decontamination of N95 respirators will double the availability of 3M flat-fold respirators during a supply crisis in any healthcare center that has a Belimed Steam Sterilizer MST-H or MST-V.
During the global shortage in the last months, the supply of N95 respirators in all regions of the world, including healthcare leaders like the USA, Germany, or the Netherlands, has been tight. It soon became clear that disposing of single-use respirators after one use (standard protocol) could leave health care workers exposed due to lack of supply.
Hospitals around the world are seeking options to provide respirators to their employees to help reduce their risk of exposure when working with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. The solutions include extended use and/or contingency reprocessing methods, both of which have their challenges.
Previously, Belimed had published a white paper explaining these reprocessing options that various countries were adopting to alleviate the scarcity of disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) like N95 respirators, surgical gowns, or face shields. The goal was to share this information with healthcare facilities across the globe. The whitepaper can be downloaded on the Belimed website.
Now, with the evaluation by 3M of steam decontamination of N95 respirators, specific programmed cycles of the Belimed Steam Sterilizer MST-H or MST-V were determined to be compatible with specific 3M respirator models.
“Belimed’s number one priority has always been to protect the health and safety of hospital staff and their patients. With our expertise in sterile processing we want to contribute our part and create certainty in uncertain times,” says Dominik Arnold, CEO of Belimed. “Now our customers and the healthcare community can be confident to have a more reliable fall-back solution in times of short supply of N95 respirators.”
For more information please check 3M’s technical bulletin “Decontamination of 3M Filtering Facepiece Respirators, such as N95 Respirators, in the United States – Considerations” and Belimed’s website (www.belimed.com).
Belimed AG is a leading provider of product and service solutions for the sterilization, disinfection, and cleaning of medical and surgical instruments. The company, with its headquarters in Zug (Switzerland), can look back on more than 50 years of history. We are continuously developing our technology-based portfolio and are always looking for innovative solutions to improve reliability, efficiency and sustainability in sterile supply departments.
We are engineers of confidence: we listen to our customers and find the right solutions for their challenges. We create optimal conditions for a better working environment. Our comprehensive range of sterile workflow solutions ranges from planning and conception to industry-leading systems and consumables to professional services and data connection options. In addition, we offer our customers training and further education opportunities.
The focus of our work is the unlimited trust of our customers. Together we make an important contribution to medical progress and ensure the safety and health of patients and medical personnel.
First in nation treatment for MIS-C, COVID-19 complication, at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s HospitalMUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston on leading edge of treatment see more
When 4-year-old K.J. Griffin arrived at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, the normally bubbly boy who loves to ride his bike and play outside with his friends was frighteningly limp.
His mother was stunned and exhausted. The little boy she’d worried about for days as his fever spiked had already been to a hospital near their home in rural Smoaks. But the condition K.J. was suffering from was so new and rare that it went unrecognized.
So Talaiyah Stephens watched over her son at home, doing what she could to ease his symptoms but feeling helpless as he got sicker and sicker. “He didn’t want to talk. All he would do was sleep. He’d wake up, throw up, go to the bathroom, then lay back down and go to sleep. He would look at you like he was staring right through you.”
When K.J.’s fever rose to 105 degrees and wouldn’t come down, Stephens came to a decision. She would drive him to MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, about an hour and 15 minutes away. It was a choice that saved his life.
Webinar features inside details on beating back the COVID pandemic see more
Top executives from five of the Palmetto State’s leading life sciences organizations shared how they have found opportunity by pivoting, product adjustment, service expansion and partnering to overcome the global COVID pandemic and find accelerating opportunity and growth.
The SCBIO webinar took place August 25th and featured Shea Harrelson and Scotty Branch, co-Founders of Vikor Scientific; John Carrington, CEO of Zverse; Jen Thorson, COO of Modjoul; Steve Clemons, CEO of VitaLink Research; and Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals. Erin Ford EVP of SCBIO – South Carolina’s official life sciences industry organization -- moderated. Enjoy the whole program here.
PPE available through national exchange see more
The spring 2020 collaboration between SCMEP, the SC Hospital Association, the SC Department of Commerce and SCBIO which launched the online South Carolina Emergency Supply Collaborative portal to provide critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare providers, hospitals and businesses across the Palmetto State has taken a giant leap forward.
The SC Emergency Supply Collaborative has joined forces with the national team at PPE Exchange to provide a dramatically expanded and fully automated resource for accessing PPE and supplies for all South Carolina businesses.
PPE Exchange is an online marketplace of regional and national suppliers of PPE, similar in concept to an Amazon but dedicated to the provision of PPE and essential supplies. Via PPE Exchange, hospitals, health care providers and businesses seeking supplies are virtually connected to a marketplace of already-verified suppliers to securely search for items, schedule orders, compare prices and complete transactions.
Among the enhanced benefits of sourcing supplies via PPE Exchange is its support technology built on blockchain, allowing buyers: to track transactions from order placement to delivery; access to over 200 regional and national suppliers; easy ability to source from SC-based suppliers; price comparison capabilities; ability to order in small volumes; and a “request a quote” feature.
“The demand for PPE continues to be critical to our state and its diverse businesses and healthcare providers,” said Chuck Spangler, President of the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership and a spokesperson for the Emergency Supply Collaborative. “After creating and operating the South Carolina COVID-19 Emergency Supply portal with our partners these past several months, we identified PPE Exchange as an organization with the secure technology platform, expanded mix of vendors and products, and service-driven operations approach to provide the secure digital marketplace that Palmetto State organizations seeking PPE deserve.”
Much as with the prior Collaborative portal, PPE Exchange connects parties in need of essential supplies and equipment with those that can provide it quickly and efficiently. It allows industry providers of critical medical supplies (such as face shields, gowns, ventilators and masks) from South Carolina and across the U.S. to directly connect with the healthcare providers and members of industry in search of essential supplies in one easy step. South Carolina suppliers of goods are clearly marked to ensure that Palmetto State organizations can “Shop SC” as desired.
To begin accessing the marketplace on PPE Exchange, visit https://www.ppe.exchange/ and request access. Upon entering a contact email and basic information, an email will be automatically sent prompting a password reset and allowing login to the PPE Exchange website.
“Whether from a South Carolina or a South Dakota supplier, organizations and individuals can go online 24/7 via PPE Exchange to identify and select the critical need items they need from the expanded menu of providers and offerings,” said Sam Konduros, CEO of SCBIO. “We encourage every member of our state’s industry, if you have a need for PPE products, or want to add your products to the growing registry of vendors, to visit PPE Exchange now.”
Visit PPE Exchange at https://ppe.exchange/.
News you can use on SC life sciences see more
SCBIO's latest Monday Moment arrives to welcome your week with meaningful and inspiring information in 3 minutes or less. This week, enjoy an uplifting reminder from Tressa Gardner, Associate Vice President of the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SiMT)... great health equity news from BMS... an exciting upcoming webinar, plus lots of uplifting information... get details here...
ZEUS Names New President and CEO see more
Frank P. Tourville, Sr., Founder and Chairman of the Board of Zeus Industrial Products, Inc. announced on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 that Steve Peterson, President of Zeus, assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer. This organizational change comes with the recent retirement of former CEO, John Winarchick, who dedicated over 30 years of service to the company.
Peterson, who joined Zeus in 2017, previously held the position of Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing. Before joining Zeus, Peterson held global leadership positions with TE Connectivity, Samsung Electronics, and General Electric. During that time, he assumed roles of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing, product management, supply chain management, and executive management.
As President and CEO of Zeus, Peterson will continue to play an instrumental role in leading the company forward by focusing on developing powerful growth strategies and providing ongoing value to customers, team members, and the surrounding communities. His invaluable contributions have already helped to shape the company Zeus is today.
“Steve Peterson has shown the true measure of a leader in unprecedented times of difficulty. His charisma, resilience, dedication, and vast industry knowledge are huge assets to Zeus,” said Frank P. Tourville, Sr., Founder and Chairman of the Board, Zeus Industrial Products, Inc.
Vikor Scientific featured in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville Business magazines see more
A number of South Carolina-based life sciences companies joined the battle against COVID-19 when the pandemic hit in early March. Prominent among this group is Charleston-based Vikor Scientific, a testing laboratory founded just over two years ago by entrepreneurs Shae Harrelson and Scotty Branch.
Vikor developed a COVID-19 test kit that is now widely used by nursing homes and other healthcare facilities across the nation. The test kit also tests for more than 40 other pathogens known to cause respiratory illness. Click to enjoy the entire article...
DPX supporting higher education institutions and research facilities see more
DPX Technologies, a manufacturer of laboratory consumable products for sample preparation, has awarded over $400,000 to researchers over the last several years. This amount is a combination of product donated and money awarded for researchers to use towards travel and presentations for industry specific scientific tradeshows or publications. DPX products have been featured in scientific publications including: Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Journal of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, and Journal of Chromatography.
DPX manufactures patented sample preparation products and specializes in custom workflows for a diverse client base. The INTipTM products have attracted the attention of researchers for years. “We often get contacted by researchers that want to develop and publish new methods that use our technology. We welcome that collaboration,” says Dr. Kaylee Mastrianni.
DPX wants to take a formalized approach in supporting higher education institutions and research facilities by awarding research grants to support the use of INTip sample preparation products as tools for education or discovery. DPX now has a form on their website to apply for research grants.
Grants will be awarded based on the novelty and scientific impact of the research described in the application. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year by the DPX scientific review board and recipients can be awarded up to $1000 per year. DPX Technologies will notify the winners by email and/or telephone. Multiple forms may be submitted by the same applicant, college/university or facility as long as the need demonstrated is for different applications.
Monday Moment for June 29, 2020 see more
SCBIO's latest Monday Moment arrives amidst the COVID-19 storm to provide meaningful and inspiring information in 3 minutes or less. This week, enjoy an uplifting reminder from Kathryn Becker of Translational Science Solutions... plus lots of uplifting news... get details here
Good news for investment opportunities in the Palmetto State see more
South Carolina’s General Assembly renewed the 2013 High Growth Small Business Job Creation or “Angel Investor” Act earlier this week until 2025.
The act offers tax credits of up to 35% of the investment to start-up investors, according to a recent announcement from the S.C. State Secretary Mark Hammond. Hammond’s office, which approves all businesses for the program.
“Since the High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act originally passed, nearly 300 companies have registered as qualified businesses, with over 90 registered at the end of 2019,” Hammond, said in the release. “Furthermore, these qualified businesses have reported creating over 1,200 full-time, part-time and temporary jobs. I am thrilled that our state has continued this program that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, especially during this time of economic uncertainty.”
Qualifying businesses must be a corporation, limited liability company, general or limited partnership headquartered in South Carolina with 25 or fewer employees and a gross income of $2 million or less, according to the release.
Program preference is extended to certain types of enterprises within the manufacturing, processing, warehousing, wholesaling, software development, information technology service, research and development, and health care sectors.
SCRA funds organizations for their COVID work see more
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) and its investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc. have dedicated an additional $1.5 million in funding to support businesses that are providing coronavirus-related solutions and to help their current portfolio companies continue to meet their financial goals during this time.
Companies receiving funding to provide COVID-19 solutions are:
- Blue Eye Soft (COVID-19 detection and diagnosis)
- Carolina Diagnostic Solutions (pulmonary self-monitoring tools)
- Citibot (citizen engagement solution)
- Elastrin Therapeutics (treatment of lung-related illnesses)
- Pure Aqua Solution (destruction of pathogens including COVID-19)
- Precision Genetics (COVID-19 testing)
- Resiliency Technology, Inc. dba SHARPEN (mental health support for healthcare workers)
- Zylö Therapeutics (treatment of COVID-19 and other lung related illnesses)
Additional companies have received investments to help them continue growing their companies in spite of the pandemic. These are:
- ActiveEd (Walkabout app promoting learning and physical activity)
- BandwagonFanClub (fan demographic reporting to elevate event experiences)
- Ellipsis Technologies (anti-fraud and other cybersecurity tools)
- Global Transplant Solutions (organ preservation products)
- PEC360 (patient experience software)
- REsimplifi (commercial real estate property search)
“Our mission of fueling South Carolina’s innovation economy includes answering the call to help during this COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our current client companies were already providing or developing solutions related to COVID-19 while others quickly pivoted to address the pandemic. We are proud to be able to provide the support necessary to maximize the impact of these solutions,” said Bob Quinn, Executive Director of SCRA.
In addition to investing financially, SCRA is also involved in other initiatives to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff members are serving on various taskforces and committees with health systems and economic development organizations. Other SCRA-supported companies are providing solutions to the pandemic including Modjoul, which has developed an employee health screening platform, Humimic Medical and ZVerse, which are producing protective shields, and Vikor Scientific, which is providing respiratory pathogen testing. Lastly, SCRA is sharing COVID-19 resources online and through social media.
Chartered in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, nonprofit corporation SCRA is a state-chartered organization that fuels job creation and grows South Carolina’s innovation economy. Through SCRA’s programs, SC Academic Innovations, SC Facilities, SC Launch and SC Ventures, researchers, developers and early-stage companies are receiving mentoring and funding, and may be eligible for an investment from SCRA’s investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.