South Carolina company a leader in organ transportation see more
You might not realize it, but there’s a company right here in the Upstate that’s on the cutting edge of organ transplant technology.
Duncan-based Global Transplant Solutions is quite literally named for what they do. They provide the solutions in which organs are transported to medical facilities all over the world for transplant procedures.
In the past four years, Global Transplant Solutions has blazed an innovative trail. They’re supplying a complete portfolio of organ preservation solutions to the Canadian transplant market, they’ve received FDA clearance for two products in the United States market, and there are four more GTS solutions awaiting FDA approval.
The company has been able to do this in a relatively short amount of time thanks in part to the South Carolina Research Authority. The SCRA is a public, nonprofit corporation that supports South Carolina’s innovation economy.
Since 2017, Global Transplant Solutions has received $350,000 in investments from the SCRA-affiliated corporation, SC Launch, Inc., which provides loans and investments to select, South Carolina-based companies across three areas: Life Science, Information Technology, and Advanced Materials & Manufacturing.
“With the assistance of SCRA and many other places, we went forward, raised private money, started the company and pursued FDA approval of our first product, which we got in 2016,” says John Bruens, the CEO of Global Transplant Solutions. “We’ll eventually have seven FDA-cleared products, exclusively geared towards the organ transplant market, and we are the only company on the planet to have anything like that.”
Steve Johnson, investment manager at SC Launch, says their investment in GTS started small but they saw great potential in the company.
“We gave them a very small grant of $15,000 in April of 2017 when we discovered them,” Johnson says. “They were in the world where there is always much, much higher demand than there is supply. So once you have a patient that is in dire need of an organ, it is everything everybody can do to get an organ donor found and then get that organs safely transported to where it’s going to be done. And Global Transplant has the solutions, literally. They make the solutions that the organs are put in during the shipment process so that they will be fully functional when they’re implanted into the patient.”
Johnson says the SCRA and SC Launch are thrilled with the results they’ve seen so far.
“Our relationship is one of communication,” he says. “It’s one of trust and it’s one where we are very closely following their financial situation. It’s been a very fulfilling relationship; that $15,000 grant to help them get started led to a pretty major investment in them and then, a second investment.”
In fact, SC Launch, Inc. recently stepped in again and helped GTS when COVID threw them a curveball.
“In April 2020, the biggest transplant centers like the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic basically said, ‘We’re not accepting any more of your solutions from FedEx or UPS,’” Johnson says. “’We want them to be shipped directly in a truck from your facility in the Upstate of South Carolina and delivered directly to our door.’ Well, that was a whole other twist of logistics for them because they’d never done that. They came to us and said, ‘We’ve got to get trucks. We’ve got to hire people. We’ve got to hand-deliver these solutions.”
“There was a concern amongst our customers that standard shipping groups were exposing, through no fault of their own, groups to potential infection,” John Bruens adds. “And the one thing you cannot do when you’re in the organ transplant is accidentally infect somebody. Our solutions are very sensitive; they’re temperature sensitive, they’re not made to be out on tarmacs getting hot. So we needed to figure out how to continue to deliver to these places that absolutely needed our product.”
“Our relationship is one of communication,” he says. “It’s one of trust and it’s one where we are very closely following their financial situation.” – Steve Johnson
Thanks to a loan from the SCRA and SC Launch, the company was able to do just that.
“This company wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for SCRA and their support,” Bruens says. “We’re always looking for ways to be better, and SC Launch and SCRA helps with that.
“Global Transplant Solutions is a gem of a company,” Johnson adds. “We’re very proud to be associated with them, we’re very proud to have invested in them, and we’re very proud of the work they’re doing.”
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 35,000 organ transplants a year are performed in the U.S. As this article was being completed, GTS announced that the FDA had given clearance to another of their solutions, Servator® P, which is used for safe human lung transportation.
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.
Issues over $3 million in funds to colleges, universities see more
SCRA has announced the funding of over $3.3 million to selected colleges and universities for translational research projects to address key challenges facing the state’s industrial base. SCRA’s funding is being matched by the academic institutions and industry partners, bringing the total amount of the projects to over $6.7 million.
The projects are being funded through the SCRA-Academia Collaboration Team (SACT) program. The goal of the SACT is to connect industry with multi-institutional academic teams and build bridges among the institutions to foster engagement and advance technologies, many of which will enter the marketplace and lead to the creation of South Carolina-based jobs.
- $1.8 million was awarded to Clemson University to modernize South Carolina’s manufacturing assets to enable Industry 4.0 (the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology). Clemson is partnering with the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Greenville Technical College, and Trident Technical College.
- $1.2 million was awarded to the University of South Carolina to enable factory-to-factory networking for the future of manufacturing operations. The University is partnering with Clemson University, Greenville Technical College, and Midlands Technical College.
- $305,000 was awarded to Francis Marion University to improve workforce readiness and capabilities in South Carolina. The University is partnering with The Citadel.
“I’m energized by the opportunities and positive outcomes from this intersection of academic research, entrepreneurship, and industry in the state. These collaborations provide the greatest potential for innovation, economic growth, and overall advancement of the region,” said Kella Player, SCRA Program Manager.
SCRA’s program directors and industry advisors will review the progress on these SACT research projects on an ongoing basis. Funds will be provided in stages as milestones are met.
“We are fortunate to have high-quality research and development being conducted at our state’s colleges and universities. Many of the technologies on which they are working today will produce the new companies of tomorrow. It’s a honor for SCRA to support these collaborations,” said Bob Quinn, SCRA Executive Director.
Since 2018, SACT grants have funded 17 collaborations among South Carolina-based academic institutions and 41 industry partners. These projects have produced an 8:1 multiple in additional funding from other sources such as industry and the federal government.
SCRA grants are funded in part by the Industry Partnership Fund (IPF). IPF contributors are South Carolina businesses and individuals who receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for investing in the state’s innovation economy.
Another SC start-up is making good see more
During a procedure with a young patient, Cephus Simmons noticed something wasn’t working as well as it could. Part of the child’s small intestine had slid into the large intestine, causing an obstruction that can be life threatening for small children.
But the catheter used to keep the bladder flowing wasn’t staying firmly in place.
“It became frustrating to me, and it was something that medically I knew wasn’t correct, and something that needed to be fixed,” said Simmons, a Ph.D. and radiology assistant at the Medical University of South Carolina.
The catheter the MUSC team was using, called a Foley catheter, features a balloon to hold it in place internally. After the procedure, Simmons drew up his idea for a different kind of catheter that would have two balloons, one to be placed on the inside and one on the outside of the body. He founded SealCath in 2013.
While Simmons says it solves the problems that were at hand during that procedure, the catheter he developed can be used for colonoscopies and more. It’s also made to work for both pediatric and adult patients.
But it took several years after founding of the company for the catheter to become available on the market. Simmons worked on the effort from his home in Mount Pleasant in between his clinical time at MUSC, getting little sleep.
The company quickly began to take off in 2018. Simmons was awarded a research grant that year from the National Institutes of Health.
The S.C. Research Authority, a tech accelerator program that receives state funding, also enrolled SealCath in its SC Launch program for startups in 2018. The program gives companies mentorship and capital in order to grow.
SealCath went to market in the summer of 2019. Then, Simmons secured a patent in Canada in 2020.
When COVID-19 shut hospitals’ doors to many patients, visitors and vendors, SealCath also had to shut down temporarily. Business picked back up by the end of 2020, and now Simmons plans to bring to market a silicon version of his catheter this fall — it’s available in latex for now, and some buyers are concerned about allergies to the material.
Innovations in the life sciences are some of the most promising in Charleston’s burgeoning technology industry.
Health care technology, along with biotech and pharmaceuticals, make up two of the state’s top three startup industries, according to an annual analysis by BIP Capital. Still, in terms of the amount of outside funding coming in, South Carolina’s startups can’t match the size of Georgia’s, North Carolina’s, Florida’s or Tennessee’s in the Southeast.
SealCath is one of a number of successful spin-offs to come from researchers and clinicians at MUSC.
Simmons didn’t imagine becoming the CEO of a startup company when he decided to go into medicine.
“Innovation does the same thing as what I’ve been doing my whole career, which is helping patients,” he said. “If you find the right product that’s going to improve health care, then innovation is actually just as good or better than what I’ve been doing the whole time as far as taking care of my patients.”
Simmons plans to retire from MUSC, which he now counts among his customers, this year and take his catheter on the road to market it to other hospitals. His long-term goal is to export the device to Canada.
Simmons graduated from Walterboro High School. He is married with four children.
Matt Bell named to head SC Launch see more
The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) has announced that Matt Bell was recently named Director of SC Launch and Executive Director of SC Launch, Inc. Bell replaces Russell Cook who resigned to focus on his recovery from a medical issue.
A member of SCRA’s leadership team, Matt Bell is responsible for leading the strategic direction of the SC Launch program, which provides mentoring, networking, and grant funding to eligible companies that are employing new technologies within the advanced materials and manufacturing, information technology, and life science sectors. He also serves as the liaison to the SC Launch, Inc. board of directors, which makes capital investments in SCRA Member Companies that successfully complete the due diligence process. Established in 2006, SC Launch, Inc., is an independent, nonprofit corporate affiliate of SCRA.
“Matt brings a broad background in startup creation from managing intellectual property and launching startups in academia to early-stage investing and venture capital experience. He is also an expert convener who understands how to bring the right people and resources to the table for economic development through innovation,” said Bob Quinn, SCRA Executive Director. “The SC Launch team has been accelerating the growth and success of Member Companies for many years, and Matt brings the right background and experience to lead this team as they guide our companies to becoming highly investible. We sincerely thank Russell Cook for his service to SCRA and the state, and we wish him a speedy and full recovery.”
Prior to coming to the SCRA, Bell was managing director for Discovery Partners Institute, a University of Illinois-led initiative that leverages the state of Illinois’ university resources to drive economic development through workforce training, student immersion, and research programs. He was also a managing director and a principal with Cultivian Sandbox Venture Fund where he raised capital, managed strategic investor relationships, and managed fund activities.
Matt Bell is a board member and advisor for Michigan State University’s state-wide, agriculture-focused translational fund, a former board member of Abcelex Technologies, and a U.S. Department of Agriculture Small Business Innovation Research grant reviewer. He earned a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois. He will be based in SCRA’s Greenville office.
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 multi-institutional, 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.
Pensievision earns a rare perfect score from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on its grant applicationNIH recognizes outstanding performance bySouth Carolina organization see more
Pensievision, the Charleston based company that develops AI-based, 3D medical imaging technologies, earned a rare perfect score from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on its grant application for developing a low-cost, handheld, 3D imaging system for improved screening of cervical neoplasia, to help prevent cervical cancer. The grant funds awarded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will be used for a clinical study, in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
The proposal submission, led by Pensievision’s CTO, Dr. Joe Carson, who is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at College of Charleston, received a perfect score of 10, ranking in the top one percentile of all grants submitted to the NIH.
The NIH review board indicated that “the proposal was perceived as exciting, highly innovative, extremely significant, with an exceptional investigative team, and outstanding environment”.
“We knew that we wrote a strong grant proposal, but we were still surprised by the rare perfect score” says Tal Almog, Pensievision’s Co-founder and President. “We are honored and very excited with the opportunity to enhance screening and diagnostic technologies that could save lives”
Earlier this year, Pensievision completed development of CervImage™, the world’s first portable colposcope capable of producing high-resolution 3D images to assist in early-stage detection and analysis of pre-cancer cervical lesions. The team decided to focus on cervical cancer (the third most common cancer worldwide and the leading cause of cancer death in women in developing economies) where screening efforts in low resource communities have only achieved limited success due to lack of laboratory infrastructure, shortage of trained personnel, and high costs, leading to high mortality rates. CervImage™ could improve existing screening methods by offering a point of care screening & diagnostics solution to enable single-visit screen-and–treat without the need for return visits or lab results.
Experienced Team and Advisory Board
Pensievision was founded by a unique team of four interdisciplinary professionals: Dr. Joe Carson, a professor of Astrophysics, Dr. YT Liu, a medical doctor, Tal Almog, a technology entrepreneur/executive, and Ben Carson, a business attorney. They are assisted by a seasoned advisory board, including Dr. Dennis Carson, a renowned cancer researcher and the former Director of the UCSD Moores Cancer Center, and Raymond McDaniel, CEO and President of Moody’s Corporation, a $50B financial services company.
Novel Imaging Technology
The company develops medical-grade 3D imaging technologies using Dr. Carson’s untraditional approach of borrowing imaging techniques used in astronomy, such as for NASA’s space telescopes. He used his own experience in extraterrestrial imaging, including his direct-imaging discovery of a ‘super-Jupiter’, and his discovery of the coldest imaged companion of a sun-like star (which was recognized as ‘TIME magazine top 10 science discoveries of 2009’).
Pensievision is working to miniaturize its devices and is developing a fiber-optic based endoscope to achieve precise 3D imaging of pre-cancerous lesions inside the body, including within the cervical canal, the ovaries, and the esophagus.
Pensievision’s 3D imaging software could further be adapted to applications in consumer electronics, smartphones, and digital health. The company is currently working with market-leading strategic partners to license its technology.
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.
Effort to focus on life sciences, other knowledge-based industries see more
In preparation for an anticipated economic rebound once the effects of the COVID-19 health crisis subside, the Richland County Economic Development Office (RCEDO) has teamed with a group of regional partners to develop an economic development action plan for promoting the growth of knowledge-based industries within the region.
RCEDO is also collaborating on the plan’s marketing components with those partners, which include Lexington County, the City of Columbia, the University of South Carolina, Midlands Technical College, the S.C. Research Authority (SCRA) and the Central SC Alliance.
The initiative focuses on five knowledge-based industry segments: information technology/data analytics, financial services, aerospace, medical devices and the biosciences. It is designed to build on existing assets in the region and capitalize on the growing base of research, innovation and industry partnerships at the University of South Carolina.
“I am exceptionally proud that the entire economic development community in our region has united to ensure that we can more effectively compete to expand the number of knowledge-based jobs,” said Paul Livingston, chair of Richland County Council. “This initiative will have a substantial economic impact on the whole region.”
The plan also contains a robust marketing component, and RCEDO will collaborate with its regional alliances to implement key strategies. The development office will coordinate with partners to position and promote the Columbia region as a technology and innovation hub.
“South Carolina is among the most successful states in the nation in building its manufacturing base, but the state has not been as successful in generating jobs in knowledge-based industries,” said Garry Powers, who is overseeing the project for the County as a member of the Economic Development staff.
“The Columbia metro area has the highest concentration of software-related employment in the state, and bioscience-related companies are expanding rapidly in the region,” said Jeff Ruble, RCEDO director. “Therefore, once we adapt our economic development and workforce programs so that we have an improved capacity to support companies in these targeted industries, the Midlands region is well positioned to substantially increase employment, both within our existing firms and within the new firms that we will attract to the region.”
As part of this initiative, Deloitte Consulting has analyzed the region’s capacity to grow employment in the targeted industry segments. Using this information, the company developed a detailed action plan that mitigates competitive weaknesses and builds on the region’s strengths.
To assess the Midlands’ competitive position, Deloitte measured the region’s capacity to support industry expansion compared with more than two dozen other metro areas that are hotbeds of knowledge industry growth.
Further, the initiative identifies opportunities to improve the region’s competitive position in a variety of areas, including:
- Enhancing education/training programs based on an analysis of industry needs
- Expanding programs that build the talent pipeline
- Ensuring there is sufficient infrastructure (e.g., wet labs, broadband, real estate) to support the targeted industries
- Restructuring state/local education and training incentives and other state/local incentives to ensure they are competitive nationally
The SCRA is an active partner in the project because of its mandate to promote the growth of the state’s innovation economy by accelerating technology-enabled growth in research, academia, entrepreneurship and industry. Deloitte’s action plan includes provisions for growing existing small firms and attracting new, innovative small firms within the targeted industry segments. The plan will especially focus on firms capable of building university partnerships.
The project is expected to provide substantial economic development benefits statewide, and the region has established strong, project-related working relationships with several entities. These include the S.C. Department of Commerce, the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, the S.C. Council on Competitiveness and SCBIO, a statewide, not-for-profit, public–private economic development organization that actively promotes, builds, supports, expands and convenes the state’s life sciences industry.
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.
Life sciences community at WestEdge is booming see more
The newest WestEdge building is in stark contrast to the former landfill it is built on.
The glass-exterior 22 WestEdge office and research structure rises with a gleam above the underground layers of trash.
Evoking modernity and progress in eight stories, the 125-foot-tall building is touted as the tallest multi-tenant office structure on the peninsula and in the Charleston region.
The 156,000-square-foot building recently opened with 78 percent of it leased in advance, closing out the first phase of the long-planned WestEdge development.
Only two floors remain unoccupied, but ready for build-out with piles of drywall, ceiling tiles, wall studs and other building supplies lying on the floor.
The ground floor houses retail and restaurant space with Rush Bowls restaurant now open and French cafe Saveurs Du Monde to follow soon. REV, formerly Heritage Trust, Federal Credit Union and The Smile Store/Charleston Orthodontics recently began serving clients, too, on the first level. Read on for the entire article...
South Carolina firm's NP Collection Swab offers a highly scalable injection-molded design see more
South Carolina-based Hoowaki LLC has developed an innovative one-piece injection molded design for a COVID-19 swab to help close the gap in U.S. and global COVID-19 testing supplies. The 12-year old micro surface engineering and product solutions company has adapted its proprietary HOOWAKI MICROGRIP® surface technology to create micro-pillars used in the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab that is shown in clinical user testing to meet existing industry-standard products for flexibility and performance. In independent laboratory testing (qPCR Assay) it has also been proven to be equivalent to the industry-standard flocked filament swabs in the collection of patient RNA that is critical for COVID-19 testing. Mass-production of its FDA registered, patent pending, Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab will begin this summer and is expected to reach at least several million units per month.
"The Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab is an important answer to the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic," said Ralph Hulseman, president of Hoowaki LLC. "Our design allows for production to be quickly scaled in communities around the world—rapidly addressing the rising demand for swabs, a critically important element of all COVID-19 testing."
A recent study by Harvard University [https://ethics.harvard.edu/files/center-for-ethics/files/roadmaptopandemicresilience_updated_4.20.20_0.pdf] cites the need for up to 20 million COVID-19 tests per day by the end of summer. The proprietary Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab is manufactured using advanced injection molding technologies that utilize existing equipment that is readily available in communities throughout the world. The swab's scalability is due to Hoowaki LLC's formulations and engineering designs working at existing injection molding facilities, which enables the swab to be produced in quantities that meet local demands anywhere in the world.
"Prisma Health collaborated with Hoowaki LLC in the testing and development of the innovative new design. The soft feel and ease of use of the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab tip impressed my team," said Jennifer Meredith, Ph.D., clinical microbiology director at Prisma Health-Upstate.
"Prisma Health is excited to see a locally produced solution that could help ease the shortage of swabs for COVID-19 sample collection," said Meredith. "Hoowaki LLC's product has the potential to help us meet our commitment to our patients in the fight against COVID-19." Prisma Health, the largest healthcare system in South Carolina, harnessed its Rapid Innovation Task Force to help with the project.
Hulseman credits several public-private partnerships that have helped to provide start-up funding for the swab's development: "As is the case for many businesses in today's environment, Hoowaki LLC adapted quickly to meet new challenges where demand is outpacing supply so we could remain not only viable as a company, but also pursue this pioneering technology. We're grateful for the backing of the Greenville Local Development Corporation (GLDC) and SC Launch, Inc., an investment affiliate of the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), who have been instrumental in helping us develop the Hoowaki® NP Collection Swab."
"Hoowaki LLC is a great example of a small business that has proven to be a powerhouse of innovation during a time of incredible challenge," said David Barnett, Chairman of the Greenville Local Development Corporation. "We are proud of our continued support for Hoowaki LLC in the development of the NP Collection Swab."
Hoowaki, LLC is a micro surface engineering services and product solutions company that has developed unique micro surface pattern designs, engineering algorithms, software and manufacturing know-how to address major markets. The company's micro surface technology provides grip or slip solutions in the form of films for medical devices, packaging and other industrial and consumer products. Their team includes experienced micro surface engineers, physicists, friction experts, medical device experts, entrepreneurs, inventors and developers. Hoowaki has market deployment partnerships with Havi (packaging) and BvW Holding AG (implanted medical devices). Hoowaki has a broad patent coverage of micro surface technology.
Zylo, Hoth expand relationship see more
Mr. Robb Knie, Chief Executive Officer of Hoth, commented, “We are pleased to expand our partnership with Zylö and look forward to working together as our therapeutic for Lupus patients continues through the next phase of development. This small equity investment in Zylö is a further commitment to our belief in Zylö’s science and team.”
Stated Scott Pancoast, CEO of Zylö Therapeutics, “Partnering with Hoth in 2019 was an important step in propelling our lupus program forward. This equity investment in Zylö stock represents an expansion of the partnership and is a win-win for the two companies.”
According to estimates by the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), 1.5 Million Americans currently suffer from lupus, with 16,000 new cases reported annually. Tragically, lupus strikes mostly women of child-bearing age. Worldwide, the LFA estimates that at least five million people may have some form of the disease. Of the people diagnosed, approximately two-thirds will develop CLE. The annual average cost to provide medical treatment for a person with lupus: $6,000 to $10,000, with some treatment costing several thousand dollars a month.
About Zylö Therapeutics, Inc.
Zylö, dedicated to bringing innovative technologies to multiple facets of medicine, has an innovative sustained-release drug-delivery system that was developed by Joel Friedman MD PhD, Adam Friedman MD FAAD, and Andrew Draganski PhD. The delivery system uses patented xerogel-derived nanoparticles, called Z-pods™, to deliver—in a sustained and controlled manner—notoriously hard-to-deliver therapeutic agents through topical administration. For more information, please visit; http://www.zylotherapeutics.com/
About Hoth Therapeutics, Inc.
Hoth Therapeutics, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new generation therapies for dermatological disorders. HOTH’s pipeline has the potential to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from indications including atopic dermatitis, chronic wounds, psoriasis, asthma and acne. Hoth has recently entered into a Joint Development Agreement to further the development of vaccine prospects to prevent, intercept or treat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) based upon VaxCelerate, a self-assembling vaccine (SAV) platform exclusively licensed by Voltron from the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). To learn more, please visit www.hoththerapeutics.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, statements that relate to the advancement and development of AEA-loaded Z-pods™, the commencement of clinical trials, the availability of data from clinical trials and other information that is not historical information. When used herein, words such as “anticipate”, “being”, “will”, “plan”, “may”, “continue”, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements or information that refer to expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, performance or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking. All forward-looking statements are based upon Hoth’s current expectations and various assumptions. Hoth believes there is a reasonable basis for its expectations and beliefs, but they are inherently uncertain. Hoth may not realize its expectations, and its beliefs may not prove correct. Actual results could differ materially from those described or implied by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including, without limitation, market conditions and the factors described under the caption “Risk Factors” in Hoth’s Form 10K for the period ending December 31, 2018, and Hoth’s other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Consequently, forward-looking statements should be regarded solely as Hoth’s current plans, estimates and beliefs. Investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Hoth cannot guarantee future results, events, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Hoth does not undertake and specifically declines any obligation to update, republish, or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect new information, future events or circumstances or to reflect the occurrences of unanticipated events, except as may be required by law.
SCRA added three advisory groups for biomedical sciences, cybersecurity and industry see more
Summerville, S.C.—South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) announces the formation of three Business and Science Advisory Boards (BSABs). The purpose of the BSABs is to advise SCRA’s Board of Trustees when requested by it. The boards include representatives from South Carolina research universities, the venture capital/angel investment community, South Carolina Department of Commerce, and industry leaders in the following areas:
Each board provides key business and technical expertise, acts as an independent/ unbiased sounding board for input on SCRA’s program implementation and performance and provides guidance to SCRA regarding funding opportunities. One upcoming funding opportunity on which the BSABs will advise is the SCRA-Academia Collaboration Team (SACT) Collaborative Research Grants. These grants will be available for multi-institutional, collaborative research teams that seek to advance commercially relevant research and address key industry challenges to foster technology-enabled growth of the state’s innovation economy. The solicitation will be released in June.
“SCRA serves as a bridge between industry and academia. It is imperative that the applied research SCRA funds benefits not only its academic stakeholders, but also South Carolina’s industrial base. The development of the BSABs ensures that the new SACT program achieves those objectives for both stakeholder groups,” said Christine Dixon Thiesing, SCRA Director of Academic Innovations.
The SCRA fuels South Carolina’s innovation economy by accelerating technology-enabled growth in academia, entrepreneurship and industry. SCRA works with public and private sectors, including industry, to identify market trends and validate the commercial relevance of academic research that SCRA funds. SCRA’s programs and operations had an almost $700 million impact on the state’s economy during the last fiscal year.
Chartered in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, nonprofit corporation, SCRA fuels South Carolina’s Innovation Economy by accelerating technology-enabled growth in research, academia, entrepreneurship and industry.
Precision Genetics receives SCRA grant see more
SCRA announces a $250,000 SC Launch, Inc. investment in Precision Genetics. The life sciences company, located in Greenville, was recently accepted into SCRA’s entrepreneurial program, SC Launch.
Precision Genetics validated the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to process COVID-19 test kits. Precision Genetics is now available to support state and local healthcare systems in need of public health surveillance, and has priority access to test reagents from commercial reagent manufacturers, which have received EUA from the FDA.
Precision Genetics provides the test kits for healthcare facilities and providers looking to test patients using real-time RT-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) in respiratory specimens. The test uses RT-PCR to detect the virus in upper and lower respiratory specimens.
Currently, results will be available within 24 hours (one business day) from time of receipt of the sample in the laboratory, with plans to boost testing capacity in the coming week. Precision Genetics’ healthcare technology laboratory has the capability to direct-connect to other laboratories, healthcare systems, and practitioners’ offices to deliver test information within seconds of the results being reported. The laboratory uses a cloud-based information system, Ovation.io, to help expedite the test orders, specimen tracking, and results to support faster response times to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to COVID-19 testing, Precision Genetics uses an advanced scientific approach to treating employees and patients, using healthcare data to determine the risks associated with medications and complex drug regimens. By combining genetic markers, molecular data, and clinical evidence into a comprehensive and actionable solution, they allow providers to immediately develop individualized treatment and prevention plans for their patients.
“Healthcare facilities throughout South Carolina were struggling to find COVID-19 test facilities that could provide both accurate and timely results”, said Steve Johnson, SCRA Investment Manager. “Some institutions were waiting eight days or more before receiving results. Other testing services were no longer even accepting any further samples. It was critical that an experienced South Carolina-based lab have the throughput capacity to handle the volume of COVID-19 testing that was predicted to be coming. Because of Precision Genetics’ existing track record of providing excellent advanced molecular testing and innovative solutions to healthcare institutions in the state, SCRA and SC Launch, Inc. are proud to provide this investment to Precision Genetics at a time when their capabilities are critically needed in our state.”
“This national and statewide pandemic has challenged us as business leaders to create immediate solutions on behalf of our patients and healthcare providers. The challenge in South Carolina is that we lack sufficient laboratory infrastructure to deploy testing solutions in rapid form in order to manage the immenent demand that our state requires. All labs face a similar obstacle of obtaining the necessary resources and supplies to accommodate our patient volumes. SCRA and SC Launch, Inc. stepped up and provided financial commitment and strategic support for us to expedite our efforts. We are desperately trying to serve our community in this time of need, and we are very grateful for the support from SCRA and SC Launch, Inc.” said Nate Wilbourne, CEO of Precision Genetics.
SCRA is a state-chartered organization that fuels job creation and grows South Carolina’s innovation economy. Through SCRA’s programs, early-stage companies are provided mentoring and grants and may be eligible for an investment from SCRA’s investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.