SC's life sciences industry responds to the challenge of COVID-19 see more
I just completed a radio interview with SC Business Review, focused exclusively on the all-consuming and seismic topic of the Coronavirus – which is dramatically impacting all our lives. As I made clear to interviewer Mike Switzer, any relevance of me being interviewed as opposed to our scientists and clinicians is tied to the privilege that SCBIO has of serving as a voice and accurate storyteller for the 600+ life sciences companies and entities that proudly call the Palmetto State home.
And there are incredibly meaningful and encouraging stories to share in the midst of this very real public health crisis – regarding SC companies and institutions that will positively impact patients across the state and nation with innovative and creative approaches they are actively, and very rapidly, undertaking.
Just a few exemplary SC examples include:
- MUSC Health was the first in the nation to uniquely provide both direct, timely, and online access to Coronavirus screening via their virtual care platform coupled with a drive-through specimen collection site for patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. This was done in partnership with the developers (newest SCBIO Member, Trademark Properties) of the dramatically redeveloped Citadel Mall Epic Center, which is now home to MUSC Health’s West Ashley Medical Pavilion – as they worked closely to secure immediate approvals for the location of the collection site in the mall parking lot. If you or someone you know needs to be screened, log on to www.musc.care and use COVID19 as the promo code. This is FREE for all South Carolinians.
- Nephron Pharmaceuticals, a major national supplier of respiratory therapy medications badly needed by patients suffering from COVID-19, is aggressively ramping up their ability to increase production of 90 million sterile doses per month of targeted drug therapies with an additional 32 million doses, as they work with the FDA to have 3 new aseptic filling lines approved and brought online quickly to meet skyrocketing demands they are experiencing.
- Vikor Scientific has specifically dedicated 2,000 sq. ft of their brand new 22,000 sq. ft. headquarters and CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited lab facilities at WestEdge for COVID-19 testing as soon as approval is received from the FDA. They are in fact preparing 100,000 test kits to be available for shipment to customers as soon as Wednesday of this week – and are working closely with the FDA for continued guidance on expediting the approval process.
On the national front, there are also some encouraging stories emerging, including the most rapid launch of a possible new vaccine on record.
Moderna has already begun its first coronavirus vaccine trial in Washington State (the nation’s worst hot spot at present) with volunteers at Kaiser Permanente Research Institute in Seattle. Over the next 2 months, volunteers ages 18-55 will get two doses of the trial vaccine (known as mRNA-1273). Dr. Fauci of the national Coronavirus Task Force has confirmed that this 65-day development is the fastest ever accomplished for a new vaccine of this magnitude. And while widespread utilization of a newly approved vaccine is still likely 12-18 months away, gratefully progress is on track to achieve that. Also noteworthy are other vaccines and targeted therapies concurrently in the pipeline, involving companies such as Pfizer, Regeneron and Sanofi.
Finally, on a very personal note, each of us and our extended families are being dramatically impacted by this global pandemic and are encouraged to do our parts in mitigating the spread of this fearsome and highly contagious virus. After an extended battle with metastatic lung cancer, my dad peacefully passed away this past weekend, and regrettably his funeral will have to be limited to a private family graveside service (with a future memorial service to be scheduled once the health crisis has subsided). In an interesting juxtaposition of life & death, my nephew’s wedding this weekend has been compressed to a small family rehearsal dinner combined with a quiet ceremony in conjunction with the dinner. I’m certain that there will be a multitude of other similar stories from most of you regarding how we grapple and deal with this unprecedented event with no clear endpoint at present.
While all of this will ultimately be in our “rear view mirrors” at some point in the future through the power and innovation of our industry, our researchers, and our heroic healthcare providers, life and business as we know it will have to be dramatically different in the weeks – and possibly months – ahead. Expect a more virtual experience with SCBIO for the near future, and look to hear from us more often via electronic means ranging from e-blasts to social media efforts to increased website postings to webinars. I am fully confident that all of our life & health sciences companies and leaders will respond valiantly, and that this will bring out the best in us – with creative and even transformative solutions and strategies that will enable us to maintain momentum in our vital missions. And we will learn a great deal and grow through this challenging process – as our strength is truly forged in fire…
We will update you on various developments around COVID-19 and beyond and encourage all of you to share your stories of hope and progress as we collectively battle this formidable foe. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our SCBIO team for any reason, and we are more grateful than ever for all of you.
Sam Konduros, CEO
South Carolina featured in JD Supra article see more
South Carolina has long been known for its colorful history, beautiful beaches and vibrant tourist industry. In recent decades, it has also come to be well known for its high-tech manufacturing with the likes of BMW, Boeing, Honda, Michelin, Samsung and Volvo, all locating large manufacturing facilities throughout the State. What you might not know is that South Carolina is also home to another rapidly growing high-tech industry—the Life Sciences industry.
The term Life Sciences is generally used to include companies in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, environmental, and biomedical devices. The Life Sciences industry also includes organizations and institutions that devote the majority of their efforts in the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization, as well as the companies who support these entities.
According to SCBIO, the trade association which represents the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina, there are over 700 companies and businesses actively engaged in the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina and at least one Life Sciences organization is located in 42 of the State’s 46 counties. The economic impact of the Life Sciences industry is approaching $12 billion per year and is continuing to increase, according to a recent study. It is also estimated that the Life Sciences industry has created over 40,000 high paying jobs in South Carolina over the last several years, with an average annual salary of over $70,000.
The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina is very diverse. It includes companies ranging from small startups focusing on developing new technology like Okra Medical, to a unique genetic clinical and research institution like Greenwood Genetic Center, which has been serving the State for decades, to large established companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals. Nephron is a pharmaceutical manufacturer and cGMP compliant 503(B) Outsourcing facility, and a global leader in the manufacture of generic respiratory medication that has rapidly expanded its manufacturing capacity and services over the last seven years. Nephron is owned and led by Lou Kennedy, whose vision and leadership have spurred the Company’s growth and success and have also made her one of the State’s most important business leaders, as well as an important thought leader in the Life Sciences industry.
South Carolina is a pro-business state that has worked diligently to attract large companies looking for a friendlier business climate from a tax and regulatory perspective. An additional driver for the growth of the Life Sciences industry is the existing ecosystem for Life Sciences, which is supported by the State’s three major research universities: University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University as well as over ten additional universities and colleges in the State - from Furman University with its innovation program and nationally recognized chemistry department, to Newberry College launching new curriculum and a degree focused on pharmaceutical manufacturing. These universities and colleges further validate the increasing depth of the existing ecosystem and the positive impact it will have on strengthening the talent pool available to the Life Sciences industry. Other factors contributing towards this growth are the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Research Authority, the strong system of hospitals and health care systems within the State, the support of various economic development alliances, the State’s expanding technical college system, the support of elected officials and the growth and leadership of SCBIO over the last several years.
SCBIO has spearheaded a series of joint private / public initiatives to promote the growth of the Life Sciences industry in South Carolina. These efforts include promoting statewide economic development strategies to attract Life Sciences companies to locate or relocate in South Carolina and consistently promoting and strengthening the existing ecosystem which allows established South Carolina Life Sciences organizations to collaborate, grow and flourish. In addition to its economic development efforts, SCBIO has integrated its efforts with the broader mission to transform and positively impact healthcare as evidenced by its unique alliances forged with the South Carolina Hospital Association, several large health systems and large payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. For the past four years, SCBIO has been led by its CEO, Sam Konduros. Konduros has experience with economic development, operations of Life Sciences companies, developing start-up companies and most importantly—developing and implementing an ambitious strategic plan for the Life Sciences industry. During his time at SCBIO, Konduros has assembled a talented team. His vision and energy have fueled a rapid growth in membership and engagement and an increased in awareness and support for the Life Sciences industry across the State. Under his leadership, SCBIO significantly expanded its membership and quadrupled its revenues, while at the same time establishing itself as a powerful force for economic development and creating a new platform for Life Sciences companies to collaborate on innovations and research. Earlier this month, Konduros announced his departure from SCBIO to serve on the Board of Vikor Scientific, another successful company within the Life Sciences space in South Carolina that is rapidly expanding. He will also serve as CEO of a new health innovation company powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies focusing on science personalized medicine strategies that will be a part of Vikor Scientific’s expanding portfolio of companies. SCBIO is conducting a national search for Konduros’ replacement and there is no doubt that the association and its members will continue to benefit from the momentum created over the last four years as it continues to push the Life Sciences industry forward.
The global COVID-19 pandemic presented a profound challenge to the Life Sciences industry as it disrupted the way business was conducted. The Life Sciences industry in South Carolina stepped up to these challenges and turned them into opportunities. Many Life Sciences companies pivoted from their existing strategic plans to address the needs of the State and Nation by providing assistance in key areas that became critical during the pandemic. Companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Vikor Scientific, KIYATEC, Premier Medical Lab Services and others offered much needed expanded COVID-19 testing services inside and outside South Carolina. Others such as ZVerse, a digital manufacturing company, modified its business model to become one of the largest producers of reusable face shields for use during the pandemic and beyond. Over the last 12 months, they have produced millions of these reusable facemasks and have been recognized throughout the country for their efforts. Rhythmlink International, a medical device leader, donated thousands of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals and other healthcare providers across South Carolina. In addition, Milliken & Company boosted its production of biosmart fabrics used in scrubs and lab coats, which uses chlorine bleach-activated technology and molecular engineering to kill up to 99.9% of the bacteria and viruses it touches. Headquartered in Greenville, Vitalink Research was selected by Moderna to run its Phase III vaccine clinical trial, demonstrating national confidence in Life Sciences research operations in South Carolina. These are just a few examples of how South Carolina Life Sciences companies responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight why the Life Sciences industry is one of the fastest growing segments of South Carolina’s economy.
The future of the Life Sciences industry is bright in South Carolina. South Carolina has become an attractive place to develop and expand Life Sciences companies and there is great leadership within these companies. The rapid growth of Life Sciences is becoming more apparent to the public and media. In February 2021, Governor McMaster proclaimed February 15-19 as South Carolina Life Sciences Week in the Palmetto State. Our Life Sciences companies are leading the discussions of how to bring more Life Sciences manufacturing back to the U.S, including to South Carolina, and how to develop a domestic source of PPE and other parts of the supply chain. There is also increased collaboration on leveraging increased use of technology like telehealth and digital health to deliver health care services to rural and less developed areas using technology developed and perfected in South Carolina. SCBIO is also leading an effort to expand and improve the workforce to support Life Sciences companies. All signs point to a very bright future for the Life Sciences industry and South Carolina is just beginning to see the benefits of this growth and development.
Vikor Scientific Launches KOR Medical, Plans to “Set the Standard” in Personalized Clinical Cannabis TreatmentFormer SCBIO exec Sam Konduros to lead KOR Medical see more
Former SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros named President and Chief Executive Officer
of new Vikor Scientific health innovation company
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – May 4, 2021 – Continuing its rapid expansion as one of South Carolina’s fastest growing life sciences and healthcare firms, Charleston-headquartered Vikor Scientific announced that it is launching health innovation company KOR Medical “to set a new industry standard in the arena of personalized clinical cannabis to benefit patients afflicted with diseases ranging from epilepsy to cancer, and to help alleviate the nation’s opioid addiction crisis.”
According to KOR Medical Managing Partners and Vikor Scientific Co-Founders Scotty Branch and Shea Harrelson, the company is exploring locations nationwide for its initial state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar operation.
“KOR Medical will be a highly innovative organization that will bring a new blueprint and novel value proposition to the national clinical cannabis marketplace, powered by an AI and blockchain supported seed to sale platform,” said Mr. Branch. “Coupled with a relentless commitment to personalized medicine and rigorous compliance and purity, KOR will focus on providing clinicians with the tools and data they need to support leading-edge treatment protocols for the needs of each unique patient.”
In addition to former South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization (SCBIO) chief executive Sam Konduros, a seasoned business leader and attorney who will serve as president and CEO, KOR Medical is also onboarding four senior executives that bring multi-disciplinary expertise and experience in the clinical cannabis industry – including Joseph Strauss, who will serve as COO and executive vice president. Mr. Strauss brings more than a decade of immersive experience in the industry across multiple states to KOR, including Oregon, California, Colorado, and Florida. Other corporate appointees championing sales and marketing, cultivation and innovation, and government and legal affairs will be announced in early Summer.
“Mr. Konduros will lead all aspects of the company’s business and serve on the board of directors of both KOR Medical and Vikor Scientific to provide insights regarding the strategic direction of our portfolio of companies as we expand in the US and globally,” said Mr. Branch. “Sam is the epitome of a world class CEO. We look forward to watching him execute our mission with the support of an extraordinary executive team who will enable KOR Medical to achieve its vision to help transform healthcare.”
Armed with a comprehensive business plan and finalization of its laboratory-grade indoor growing facility design, KOR Medical is currently forging key industry and business partnerships with numerous entities with established track records in the cannabis industry. KOR Medical expects to confirm its initial US location of operations by mid-Summer 2021, with the site becoming a model for future expansion across the nation. KOR is planning its initial product launch during 2021, followed by full-scale production in 2022.
SCBIO CEO Konduros Accepts New Leadership Position, COO Erin Ford Appointed Interim CEO by SCBIO Board of DirectorsErin Ford named SCBIO Interim CEO as Konduros accepts private sector position see more
Exiting CEO credited with reinvigorating organization, building team and investor base to “take South Carolina life sciences to an entirely new level”; SCBIO to conduct national search for new CEO
SOUTH CAROLINA – April 7, 2021 – SCBIO Chief Executive Officer Sam Konduros – who has led the rejuvenation of South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, innovating and growing the life sciences industry in the Palmetto State for four years – is stepping down from his current role in May to pursue “an extraordinary private sector opportunity in the life sciences and healthcare space,” the organization’s Board of Directors has announced.
Konduros is departing SCBIO to serve on the Board of Directors of Charleston-headquartered Vikor Scientific, and as Chief Executive Officer of a new health innovation company focused on delivering a novel blueprint to the healthcare marketplace, powered by AI and blockchain technologies and focused on science-based personalized medicine strategies to solve some of the nation’s most pressing healthcare challenges. The soon-to-be identified organization will be revealed in May 2021 and will be part of the Vikor Scientific growing portfolio of companies. Vikor Scientific, led by co-Founders Scotty Branch and Shea Harrelson, is a prominent national brand among SCBIO’s Board and 140+ investors and organizational members, that has experienced explosive growth over the past 3 years.
Konduros is working closely with SCBIO’s board leadership on a carefully designed transition strategy. SCBIO’s world class board – comprised of top executives from industry, economic development, healthcare, research, government and higher education – will begin the search for Konduros’ successor immediately with SCBIO Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Erin Ford assuming day-to-day responsibilities and reporting to the board once Konduros officially departs in early May.
“Sam Konduros has been a force – for economic development, for life sciences and for the long-term prosperity of South Carolina,” said SCBIO Board of Directors Chair Lou Kennedy, also the CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals. “It has been an honor to work with him, he has made a remarkable impact on this organization, and he leaves it better than he found it, as one of the most influential associations in the state. We thank Sam for the service and sacrifice he has given to SCBIO, and we wish him all the best.”
As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Ford has served as primary lead for SCBIO’s business operations and finances, championing investor relations and existing industry strategies, and spearheading integrated marketing initiatives. She has managed the majority of the organization’s day-to-day requirements since joining SCBIO in 2017. She will assume the role of Interim CEO of SCBIO effective May 1st.
“Serving as President and CEO of SCBIO has been a true honor, and one of the great highlights of my career to date. It is bittersweet to depart in the midst of such incredible progress, but the organization has never been on more solid footing with strong finances, an amazing team, and a world-class Board of Directors to lead it forward. I will remain committed to its success for years to come in my new role, as I directly join the beloved industry that I have striven to serve and support in recent years. I am beyond grateful to SCBIO’s Board and to my new employer, Vikor Scientific, for the extraordinary opportunities that I’ve received,” said Konduros.
During Konduros’ tenure, SCBIO has more than doubled membership and quadrupled revenues, implemented a strong economic development focus, and launched a new innovation platform. It also expanded its role as the voice of the life sciences industry, implemented a surging workforce development initiative and created ongoing programs to encourage participation by women in life sciences, to support diversity-equity-inclusion initiatives and to encourage student participation in the industry. The organization also successfully led industry and organizational pivots during the COVID pandemic. In a recent proclamation followed by an executive order issued last week, Governor Henry McMaster has formally authorized SCBIO and the state’s Commerce Department to work together to accelerate the onshoring and repatriation of the pharmaceutical industry and vital PPE products and technologies to South Carolina.
“SCBIO has worked diligently to help South Carolina raise its profile as an emerging leader in the life sciences,” said Ms. Ford. “Our innovative companies and exceptional workforce are drivers in strengthening this industry, and we know that the life sciences will continue to play a critically important role in our state’s economic success. Sam has been an incredible contributor to this effort, and we intend to build on our Board’s, team’s and his vision to build, advance and grow life sciences in our state.”
Life sciences has a $12 billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 700 firms involved and over 43,000 professionals employed in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. It also represents a significant economic development focus for the state, with strong life science recruiting initiatives led by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and other regional economic development teams.
South Carolina life sciences has seen a near-doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to recent data provided by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, the state's research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
For additional information on SCBIO, please visit www.SCBIO.org.
Vikor Scientific and Quantgene announce major advance in precision genomics see more
Starting this March, a South Carolina lab will become ground zero for a preventative test that can detect cancer-causing mutations, risks or tumors in advance through a quick blood sample taken at home or a physician’s office.
S.C. life science organization SCBio and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance linked together Charleston’s Vikor Scientific and California’s Quantgene Inc. when the West Coast company was on the hunt for a lab that could commercialize its AI and genomic-powered preventative care program, Serenity.
Serenity puts to task a deep genomic sequence process that covers 20,000 genes in combination with the disease, medication and lifestyle risks that could contribute to multiple variations of cancer. Along with the blood test, or “liquid biopsy,” it can detect cancerous mutations in the blood, according to Vikor Scientific co-founder Shea Harrelson.
“What this means is that we can detect cancer early enough so that patients don’t have to resort to chemotherapy,” she said during SCBio’s Virtual Meeting Wednesday morning. “They may have options for immunotherapy or aggressive preventative strategies or even excisional therapy.”
Patient-specific health profiles covering personal and family history, as well as lifestyle choices, will brief analysts on how additional risks may contribute to a patient’s likelihood of developing early-stage cancer, thus prompting preventative care.
“With Serenity, we are first-to-market in combining liquid biopsy cancer detection with whole exome sequencing and advanced medical intelligence,” Johannes Bhakdi, founder and CEO of Quantgene, said in a news release. “We hope to unlock a new era in medicine in which trained physicians can detect multiple cancers at early stages in the blood with single molecule precision. Serenity brings genomic technologies to patients within an innovative system of preventative care that we believe will set a new standard in patient-centered personalized medicine. We are excited to take this important step with our partners at Vikor Scientific.”
Vikor Scientific, a hub for medical testing, will process test results in collaboration with Serenity’s proprietary cloud for both individual end-users and health care professionals.
The South Carolina company will launch its public awareness and physician education campaigns alongside the concierge-product release on March 1, according to Scotty Branch, co-founder of Vikor Scientific, and will soon build out its current location in Charleston.
“Our number one goal is to educate physicians throughout the country, which is what we do best,” Branch told GSA Business Report, adding that the team is working to get insurance companies on board with the treatment program now.
“Until then, the liquid biopsy, or the early detection portion, will be on a concierge or cash-paid basis,” he said.
Vikor Scientific will conduct whole exome sequencing and send that information to the Serenity cloud for both physicians and individual consumers, potentially for a variety of uses.
While existing genetic tests on the market like those sold by 23 and Me may be able to offer a surface level detection of certain cancer-causing genetic variations in a patient, Serenity takes genomic testing to the next step of preventative treatment, the company said.
“Genetic mutations only play a role in about 5% to 10% of cancer,” Harrelson said. “So, there’s about 90-95% of cancers that don’t have genetic mutations, and without that, you still have a lot of familial cancers. And most people die from cancer than heart disease or automobile accidents, so this liquid biopsy test will be very important, because if patients have put stress on their body or smoke or other risk factors that can increase their chance for cancer, this liquid biopsy test is pretty painless and a great screening tool for this and other cancers that … like pancreatic cancer. We often don’t find out about pancreatic cancer until stage three or four.”
Taking into account detected at-risk genetic variations, the Vikor-Quantgene team will analyze additional risks for early stages of cancer through the liquid biopsy test, in lieu of more invasive measures, which can detect whether nascent tumors are forming in the body.
“It’s a great continuum of care,” he added. The test analysis could then be used, in tandem with additional data, to launch preventative treatment and care.
“We need to use liquid biopsy as part of an annual or bi-annual screening,” Branch said.
After a Monday Vikor Scientific Board meeting, Branch said 99% of the plans for the facility buildout have been nailed down. The full announcement will come when the company approves the final portion of its development strategy.
“This is an amazing announcement for South Carolina and for economic development, where we are going to build out at our location at 22 West Edge, where Vikor’s location is currently,” he said. The company will start small with 10 to 20 new employees and scale up from there. “That is exciting news that a corporate hub would be located here in Charleston’s West Edge Medical Innovation District."
Executive Partnering, Virtual Exhibit Hall Add Draw for Power of Us Conference Feb. 16-17 see more
With conference registration surging more than 20% past prior record levels and the addition of a “singularly significant innovation announcement focused on cancer treatments and precision medicine advancement”, SCBIO's “The Power of Us” virtual conference Feb. 16-17 is preparing for its largest gathering ever next week... delivered virtually to registrants from across the Palmetto State plus 25 states and 8 countries.
Adding to the excitement is a just-scheduled “major innovation announcement” by a South Carolina company, in tandem with West Coast and German allies, that has significant implications for cancer diagnosis and treatment on a global level, organizers say.
Already in excess of 500 registrants from across America and around the globe, the acclaimed SCBIO conference – the annual gathering of South Carolina’s life sciences community – will also celebrate the rapid growth of the industry and the contributions of its 800+ organizations in helping America and the world overcome the brutal COVID-19 pandemic.
South Carolina life sciences has seen a doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, which combine to make it the fastest growing industry sector in the state, according to recent data provided by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, the state's research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
“Dr. Von Nessen’s data validates that the life sciences industry in South Carolina is experiencing stunning growth, thanks to the combined efforts of our state’s economic development teams, industry partners, research universities, elected officials and other partners,” said SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of an industry that is saving lives and improving quality of care.”
The industry has a $12+ billion economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 800 firms located in 42 of 46 counties across the state and over 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotechnology products.
Organizers are tight-lipped about the Innovation Announcement details, which will be unveiled at 8:30 a.m. on the second day of the conference—February 17.
“We will say that the implications of the announcement include a new technology that has the ability to detect cancers at the earliest time ever, to further lifespans, and to unlock a new era of precision medicine, ” said Mr. Konduros.
Adding to the draw of the conference are scores of organizations from across America showcasing their capabilities in a virtual exhibit hall, direct 1-to-1 executive meetings on demand via a Partnering Portal, major industry awards and – naturally – top speakers.
Committed presenters include BIO Global CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath; Microsoft Vice President Jamie Harper, who leads the global team supporting higher education and K-12 initiatives; and Bill Stadtlander, Commercial Leader of Verily, the Google subsidiary focused on life sciences and use of health data and AI to improve lives.
Also speaking at SCBIO 2021 are Courtney Christian, Senior Director of Policy and Research at PhRMA and former leader of the Black Women's Health Imperative; Dr. Harris Pastides, former USC President and outgoing chair of the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health; Dr. Pat Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health; and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, Dean of the USC School of Medicine - Upstate and Chief Academic Officer of Prisma Health Upstate, among others.
Themed “The Power of Us,” the 2-day SCBIO 2021 virtual event will feature sessions on The Power of Innovation, The Power of Partnership, and The Power of People – each a fundamental force which drives the state’s surging $12 billion industry that is a key contributor to South Carolina’s expanding knowledge economy.
The conference will also feature SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros delivering the “State of South Carolina’s Life Sciences Industry” address, and release of SCBIO’s 2020 annual report.
Leaders already registered to attend include executives from Presenting Sponsor Vikor Scientific, Champion Sponsor Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Keynote Sponsor Medpoint, Pinnacle Awards Sponsor Softbox and others. Leading biotech and med-tech industry brands participating include BIO, Johnson & Johnson, AVX, PhRMA, AdvaMed, Poly-Med, VWR, Ritedose Corporation, Rhythmlink, ZEUS, Patheon Thermo Fisher, Zverse, Abbott, Alcami, SSOE – Stevens & Wilkinson, and more. All of South Carolina’s research universities – MUSC, Clemson and the University of South Carolina – are represented, as are major healthcare systems, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCRA, South Carolina Hospital Association and others.
Registration is open online at the 2021 Virtual Conference section of www.scbio.org. Registration is free to employees of most SCBIO investors and supporters as well as to students interested in life sciences careers, while faculty and teachers can attend the entire conference for $25. General admission tickets are available for as little as $75. Virtual Exhibit space and sponsorships are also available by inquiring at email@example.com.
For additional information on SCBIO or to register for SCBIO 2021, visit www.SCBIO.org.
Vikor Scientific and Quantgene Partner to Launch SerenityTM -- Ground-Breaking Advancement in Precision Genomics, Personalized MedicineFounders take virtual stage at South Carolina life sciences conference to introduce technology see more
Founders take virtual stage at South Carolina life sciences conference to introduce revolutionary ability for early detection of cancer mutations
Santa Monica, CA and Charleston, SC -- Feb. 17, 2021 – Vikor Scientific, a South Carolina-based leading, molecular diagnostics company with a rapidly expanding nationwide footprint, has announced a strategic investment in California-based Quantgene Inc. to accelerate the commercialization of Quantgene’s flagship product, SerenityTM. Serenity provides world-leading accuracy in precision genomics and AI-enabled personalized preventative care.
Quantgene’s Serenity combines advanced next-generation sequencing with proprietary cloud and AI technology to uncover deeper and more meaningful health insights earlier. Serenity will launch with four core components of health protection:
- Liquid biopsy to detect cancer-related mutations in the blood to support early detection
- Deep genomic sequencing across all 20,000 genes for a more complete picture of disease, medication and lifestyle risks
- In-depth patient health profiles including health history, family history and lifestyle to bring more context to test results
- An expert clinical team to provide analysis and connect patients to a network of world-leading medical experts
The combination of these components allow the system to detect, flag and monitor disease and disease risk at earlier stages. Early intervention for potentially fatal conditions like cancer is critical to ensuring better treatment response and long-term outcomes. This is a critical advancement in marrying medicine and technology to ensure the company realizes their mission of extending the average lifespan of members by a decade within a decade.
South Carolina-based Vikor Scientific is a market leader in providing targeted, molecular diagnostics that can improve clinical and economic outcomes. Headquartered in Charleston, S.C., Vikor anchors the WestEdge Life Sciences Campus adjacent to the Medical University of South Carolina and is approaching 400 employees nationwide. The announcement was made at SCBIO 2021, the acclaimed national conference of South Carolina’s life sciences industry which draws industry leaders from around the globe.
In addition to ensuring the successful launch of Serenity commercially, the new partners have plans to launch several downstream liquid biopsy-based clinical oncology products including minimum residual disease detection (“MRD”), recurrence monitoring and companion diagnostics over the next several months. Vikor Scientific will leverage their proven commercialization engine for innovative molecular diagnostics technologies and leverage their growing national salesforce in service of the new product roll outs.
Shea Harrelson, co-founder of Vikor Scientific, said: “In Quantgene, Vikor saw a compelling opportunity to support the commercialization of advanced genomics in the service of preventative care and positively impacting the course of many chronic diseases, starting with cancer. This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission as a company - to improve patient outcomes and prevent unnecessary healthcare costs and delays in treatment by improving diagnostic accuracy, reducing turnaround time and personalizing treatment options.”
Scotty Branch, co-founder of Vikor Scientific added: “Changing the paradigm of healthcare has always been the vision for Vikor Scientific. The platform built by the Quantgene team is revolutionary and certain to accelerate the speed at which we diagnose and treat patients for cancer. Vikor is excited to lead the commercialization and expand on our mission of driving clinical outcomes. And we are particularly excited to do so here in Charleston, where we envision a dynamic future for innovation, growth and expansion of the booming life sciences hub here in South Carolina.”
“With Serenity, we are first-to-market in combining liquid biopsy cancer detection with whole exome sequencing and advanced medical intelligence. We hope to unlock a new era in medicine in which trained physicians can detect multiple cancers at early stages in the blood with single molecule precision.” added Jo Bhakdi, founder and CEO of Quantgene. “Serenity brings genomic technologies to patients within an innovative system of preventative care that we believe will set a new standard in patient-centered personalized medicine. We are excited to take this important step with our partners at Vikor Scientific.”
Alluding to Serenity as a new frontier in science that “promises earlier detection than ever and promises to unlock a new era of medicine,” Branch saluted the role of SCBIO and the Charleston Regional Development Authority in making the announcement a reality.
“I can envision the day when this collaboration leads to a new corporate hub here with new labs and bright new talent from South Carolina medical schools advancing this revolutionary technology,” Branch added. “We credit the efforts of SCBIO and this state in bringing our organization and Quantgene together, and we intend to identify new collaborations and partnerships that advance the future of medicine, and promise a healthier future for our state, country and world.”
South Carolina life sciences company adding 148 new jobs to booming industry see more
Vikor Scientific, LLC, a molecular diagnostics company, today announced plans to expand operations in Charleston County. The $1 million investment will create 148 new jobs.
Founded in 2018, Vikor Scientific, LLC specializes in antibiotic stewardship and tangible solutions for the practice of value-based medicine in the treatment of infectious disease. The company provides clinicians with advanced molecular methodology for pathogen detection, quantification and resistance gene identification.
Located at 22 Westedge Street in Charleston, Vikor Scientific, LLC's expansion will increase the company's capacity to assemble and distribute both COVID-19 and full molecular panel testing kits across the country.
The expansion is expected to be completed by January 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Vikor Scientific, LLC team should visit the company's careers webpage.
"The prior backorder of testing supplies was crippling for the U.S. during the beginning of the pandemic, and no one wants to experience that again. This expansion will help us to continue to stay ahead and increase the production of our testing kits for both COVID and our other infectious disease molecular panels by the hundreds of thousands, which is vital as we enter the sick season." -Vikor Scientific Co-Founder Shea Harrelson
"Vikor Scientific, LLC's expansion and the 148 new jobs it will create will have a huge impact in Charleston County and across the state. We couldn't be more excited to continue this partnership and watch them succeed here for years to come." -Gov. Henry McMaster
"Team South Carolina works hard to offer businesses a strong foundation to foster growth and be successful. Vikor Scientific, LLC's decision to expand in Charleston County is an indication that we are doing it right, and we look forward to supporting this great company every step of the way." -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
"Charleston County offers an environment supportive of innovation, which is a catalyst for our growth in the life sciences industry. We welcome Vikor Scientific's expansion, as it will have a positive impact on our economy with the creation of 148 new jobs." -Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey
"As we continue to respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the remarkable work of companies like Vikor Scientific has proven critical to keeping our citizens healthy and safe. Not only will this expansion create 148 new jobs in Charleston, but it will increase our ability to provide COVID-19 tests to those who need them throughout the state and across the country. On behalf of the citizens of Charleston, I'd like to thank Vikor Scientific for the lifesaving work they do in our community and wish them Godspeed as they continue to expand operations." -Charleston Mayor John J. Tecklenburg
"Vikor Scientific is a young company making a monumental impact within the life sciences industry, and we are grateful this important work is happening in our backyard. Congratulations to Vikor Scientific on this significant expansion and we look forward to our continued partnership." -Charleston County Economic Development Executive Director Steve Dykes
FIVE FAST FACTS
- Vikor Scientific, LLC is expanding operations in Charleston County.
- The $1 million investment will create 148 new jobs.
- Vikor Scientific, LLC is a molecular diagnostics company.
- Located at 22 Westedge Street in Charleston, S.C.
- Individuals interested in joining the Vikor Scientific, LLC team should visit the company's careers webpage.
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.
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.
Aug. 25 webinar highlights SC businesses stepping up during COVID see more
Top executives from five of the Palmetto State’s leading life sciences organizations will share 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, free and open to the public with advance registration, will take place Tuesday, August 25 at 10 a.m. EST.
Entitled “Beating Back COVID: 5 SC Companies Leading the Way”, the program will feature 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 -- will moderate the discussion.
The program is presented by Medpoint, a leading specialty consulting firm, with experts providing domestic and international consulting for the medical device, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries in over 90 countries.
The group will discuss such topics as:
- With more than 70 South Carolina companies pivoting or expanding product and service offerings to meet needs during the COVID crisis, how have these organizations leveraged their strengths to create new, long-lasting opportunities for their organizations?
- How businesses found willing and capable partners in the state’s universities, colleges, healthcare systems and advanced manufacturing industry to advance their capabilities and rapidly create new product offerings – expanding their market opportunities despite the economic downturn
- Industry perspective on the approach taken to reopen South Carolina’s economy, and what must be done to ensure safety for workers and limit litigation against businesses which employ them
- The importance of developing policy improvements around the re-shoring and repatriation of producing essential healthcare equipment, pharmaceuticals and ingredients, personal protective equipment and other medical products and devices back to the US and South Carolina from abroad.
Participation in the webinar is free to all interested parties. Those wishing to participate can register while space remains at https://www.scbio.org/events/scbio-webinar-beating-back-covid-sc-companies-leading-the-way.
The 60-minute program will provide attendees with insights on the pandemic’s impact on businesses and their employees in South Carolina to date, and insights and strategies to help organizations recover and grow in the coming months. The panelists will also offer reasons to be optimistic as South Carolina works to return to normalcy while still navigating a virus with no clear endpoint.
“Our goal is to bring the diverse perspectives of top business leaders from across the spectrum of life sciences together in one forum to share the opportunities they’ve found and the ideas and partnerships they’ve pursued which have resulted in business growth and success – despite the negative impact of COVID on our state and America,” said SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros.
“The panelists will also share their insights on lessons learned, reasons to be optimistic going forward, and ways for all South Carolinians to come together to solve health, social and economic challenges and improve quality of life for our citizens,” he added.
SCBIO is South Carolina’s investor-driven public/private economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has an $11.4 billion annual economic impact in the Palmetto State, with more than 600 firms directly involved and 43,000 professionals employed directly or indirectly in the research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products. The state-wide nonprofit has offices in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, and 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 include hundreds of academic institutions, biotech companies, medtech companies, entrepreneurial organizations, service providers, thought leaders, economic development organizations and related groups.
For additional information on SCBIO, visit www.SCBIO.org
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...
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...
New life sciences incubator opens in WestEdge in Charleston see more
The Charleston Digital Corridor, which offers space for startups and early stage companies, has opened a new incubator in the WestEdge development.
The organization partnered with the city of Charleston for the facility, which focuses primarily on life sciences and technology companies in the mixed-use development located in the medical district near the Ashley River.
Executive Director Ernest Andrade said Flagship – WestEdge, the fifth facility operated by the Digital Corridor, is 100% full with Anatta, BiblioLabs, DentureCare, Vendr, Vikor Scientific, and Zeriscope.
The Digital Corridor’s facilities aren’t traditional incubators where companies operate in isolation with low-cost commercial space.
The Digital Corridor uses month-to-month leases and designs its Flagship facilities to provide a setting for businesses to engage with one another. The Digital Corridor goes through an extensive application process to ensure a complementary mix of companies as well.
Mayor John Tecklenburg said the city’s WestEdge incubator was part of Charleston’s commitment to help knowledge economy companies, which generally offer wages above the state and national averages, grow in the region.
“Our investment in the Flagship – WestEdge business incubator is a tangible sign of the city’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and economic diversity while contributing to our citizens’ quality of life with high-wage technical and scientific jobs,” Tecklenburg said in a statement.
The Digital Corridor plans to move its headquarters next year to a six-story building on Morrison Drive called the Charleston Technology Center. The entire second floor, 18,000 square feet, will be dedicated to providing commercial space for small businesses and startups similar to Flagship – WestEdge. Construction began last year.
WestEdge booming as VIKOR calls it home see more
According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic drug resistance has become one of the greatest threats to global health. Charleston-based Vikor Scientific is in the business of eliminating this health epidemic, and their successful efforts to do so will continue as they expand and move their Lowcountry operations and growing workforce to WestEdge.
In the midst of this health crisis, the pressure is on clinicians to prescribe the correct antibiotics. At Vikor, they’re providing medical professionals with the diagnostic tools to achieve effective treatments. The team at Vikor specializes in customizing molecular diagnostic panels to accurately detect and quantify pathogen and resistance gene loads within 12-24 hours of specimen arrival at the lab.
Vikor’s mission to improve day-to-day diagnostics relies heavily on it’s Charleston workforce, with the company packing, shipping and handling everything going out to their vast 3,000+ client list - a diverse roster of medical professionals covering 48 of the 50 states.
“At Vikor’s new WestEdge location, together with South Carolina Research Authority, we’re creating a lab and office environment that people in Charleston have been craving for years,” said Vikor Scientific Co-Founder, Scotty Branch. “Not only will our workforce feel good about going to work in a state-of-the-art facility looking out over a world class city, we’re proud to invite scientists from across the country to visit our workspace.”
Vikor currently boasts a headcount of 53 individuals and is hiring weekly. The entire team is set to move into the nearly-completed 22 WestEdge building early this spring, with operations planned on multiple floors of the building. The company’s WestEdge headquarters is set to include the company’s C-Suite, sales & marketing teams, customer service, supply chain management, and payer relations, as well as multiple renowned clinicians, neuropharmacologists, medical specialists, researchers and scientists.
“As a graduate of MUSC, I’m extremely aware of the potential collaboration opportunities that exist at WestEdge with the neighborhood’s close proximity to the medical district,” said Shea C. Harrelson, PA-C, Vikor Co-Founder. “We recently launched our research division, KOR Life Sciences, and we are interested in working with other scientists at MUSC to identify areas where synergy may be possible.”
MUSC Health plans to move members of it’s senior management team to the second and third floors at 22 WestEdge, while Vikor will occupy the building’s eighth floor penthouse & fourthfloor. With its striking architecture, unique height and full height glass, the building will be the tallest multi-tenant office structure on the peninsula and in Charleston’s metropolitan area when it opens, offering 150,000 square feet of office & lab space, as well as street level space for cafes, restaurants & shopping.
“Vikor’s presence affirms the WestEdge vision. Scotty and Shea’s team represents the breadth of Charleston’s highly-educated workforce and underscores the potential and viability of our city to house world-class companies like Vikor,” said Michael Maher, CEO of The WestEdge Foundation, Inc. “Our neighborhood’s current and future living options, restaurants, retail, fitness, gathering and incubator spaces, were developed with businesses like Vikor in mind.”
Publix Super Market, the development’s flagship retailer, opened in April 2019 at 10 WestEdge, joining BkeDShop, Barre South, Jimmy Johns, and Hokkaido Sushi & Grill Restaurant, IX Artistry, 9Round Fitness and Domino’s Pizza at 99 WestEdge street. Recently-opened Woodhouse Spa occupies the retail space along the Spring Street frontage of 10 WestEdge.
Upon completion, WestEdge will encompass more than 3,000,000 square feet of space on 60 acres along the Ashley River adjacent to MUSC and the Medical District, and fronting on Brittlebank Park and the Joseph Riley Baseball Stadium. WestEdge is a public-private partnership created to advance economic development and expand the research capabilities of the Medical University of South Carolina and foster new companies and collaborative opportunities with private industry. It is an innovative redevelopment that is transforming the quality of life for Charleston's west side.
To learn more about WestEdge, visit http://www.westedgecharleston.com/ or follow the development’s progress on Twitter @westedgechs, Facebook @westedgecharleston, and Instagram @westedgechs.
WestEdge is a 60-acre master-planned development growing into a community of world-class office and lab space, beautiful apartment towers, restaurants, and retail shopping linked together by sweeping views and access to the Ashley River and Brittlebank Park. Key 22 WestEdge partners include Gateway Development (Developer) ELV Associates (Investor), BB&T (Lender), Trident Construction (General Contractor), Perkins & Will (Architect), Thomas and Hutton (Civil Engineer), and Lee & Associates (Marketing & Leasing).