Charleston Regional Development Alliance

Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

Printed from

Life Sciences Testimonial: Immunilogix

The Convergence of Biomedical R&D, Applied Medicine, Devices & Clinical Trials

Charleston is garnering international recognition as an emerging biomedical market, and the Medical University of South Carolina's world-class research is key to this region becoming a globally competitive location for biomedical business and talent.

Charleston is home to more than 35 medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers, and more than 50 research laboratories and development companies. This region offers the resources and network of support businesses need to thrive, as well as incentive programs to facilitate the location/expansion of biomedical companies and venture investment.

     Watch Video

Market StrengthsRelated Research & InnovationWho's Here

Supportive Environment for Innovation

The Charleston region is home to numerous biomedical companies employing more than 1600 workers locally. Many of these companies combine manufacturing and distribution elements within their operations. A 2007 Battelle report identified Charleston as one of six emerging medium-sized U.S. regions for the medical device industry.

Key focus areas:
  • Medical equipment (hospital and laboratory)
  • Medical devices and diagnostics
  • Health IT and telemedicine
  • Clinical trials and drug/vaccine research
  • Bioengineering

Located in the heart of downtown Charleston, the region's largest biomedical employer and asset is the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) which employs nearly 11,000 workers and conducts more than $232 million in research annually. Approximately 50 percent of this funding is derived from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As part of its 2011-2015 strategic plan, MUSC is creating a "Center for Medical Innovation and Entrepreneurialism" to:
  • Provide and coordinate resources and infrastructure to promote entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Provide educational and mentorship opportunities in entrepreneurship
  • Leverage the expertise of peer institutions and partner with industry

Significant Commercialization Support

The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) is a non-profit contract R&D organization established to grow South Carolina's knowledge economy. In partnership with the state's three research universities, SCRA has established a network of Innovation Centers and Launch Zones to assist start-up and existing businesses with commercializing new technologies. Through these Innovation Centers, qualifying companies are eligible for equity financing of up to $200,000.

The Health and Bioscience center at SCRA includes the Buy Accessible Program, the Copper Air Quality Program, the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel and the Copper Touch Surfaces Program.

SCRA/MUSC Innovation Center is a state-of-the-art research facility and business incubator with lab spaces designed to support medical and bioscience research. It includes 28,400 square feet of space and 11 wet laboratories. Developed through a partnership with SCRA, the City of Charleston and MUSC, it continues to attract companies and research teams to the region and currently serves as home for eight biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

SC Launch, an SCRA collaboration, was created to facilitate applied research, product development and commercialization programs, and to strengthen South Carolina's Knowledge Economy by creating high wage-earning jobs. SC Launch offers qualifying companies commercialization support, guidance and seed funding, and was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the 2010 Top Five Entrepreneurial Support Programs in the U.S..

Growing, Technically-Skilled Workforce

Greater Charleston is ranked among the Top 10 fastest growing U.S. metros for its technical and scientific workforce, including strong growth in related biomedical occupations, such as biochemists, microbiologists, chemists, lab technicians and computer engineers. (Source: Avalanche Consulting, Inc.)

Along with being a Top 10 fastest growing U.S. metro for knowledge workers, Charleston was cited by Forbes Magazine in 2009 as one of the "Best Cities in the U.S. for Technology Jobs".

Local colleges and universities offer an array of relevant degree programs, such as the College of Charleston's interdisciplinary program in discovery informatics, the first undergraduate program of its kind in the country. In September 2011, The Wall Street Journal named the Charleston region as the #1 U.S. Metro for Growth in College Degrees over the past 10 years.

Integrated, Global Infrastructure

Charleston offers dual rail access, linkage to multiple Interstates via I-26, and a convenient international airport with direct domestic flights to major cities and quick connections to nearby international hubs.

Need a private airport? The region boasts four executive airports with runways over 5000' and approximate commute times of 15 minutes or less.

The Port of Charleston is a key asset, particularly for biomedical companies seeking to import and assemble equipment/devices prior to shipping them to customers in the U.S.

The Port of Charleston is the most efficient and eighth-busiest U.S. seaport, with five terminals close to the open sea. This deepwater Port expertly handles container (including fully-loaded Post-Panamax vessels), breakbulk, project and heavy lift cargoes up to 500 tons with on-dock rail, excellent oversize clearances inland, and ample open or covered storage.

Reliable, Low Cost Energy

South Carolina's industrial electricity averages 20 - 25% below the U.S. average. The Charleston region is served by two generating electric utilities (Santee Cooper and SCANA/SCE&G) with a combined capacity of 10,275 megawatts, plus two electric cooperatives (Berkeley Electric and Edisto Electric).

Greater Charleston is also part of the South Carolina transmission grid, which is served by four generating utilities with a combined capacity of 19,721 megawatts. For natural gas transmission and distribution, the region is served by Carolina Gas Transmission Corporation, a subsidiary of SCANA Corporation.

South Carolina Incentivizes Biomedical Growth

South Carolina offers several programs designed to incentivize the location and expansion of biomedical companies and venture investment with the state and the Charleston region, including:
  • An eligibility category for relevant facilities engaged in manufacturing, processing and R&D (NAICS codes 3254 and 334516)
  • An enhanced Jobs Development Credit, which allows approved bioscience facilities to capture cash rebates for eligible expenditures
  • The ability to negotiate the apportionment formula used to calculate corporate income tax liability
  • Equipment depreciations at an accelerated rate of 20%, instead of the previous 11%
More Information on Taxes and Incentives

South Carolina Supports Business

S.C. ranked as one of the Top Five most business-friendly states for the past six years by the Pollina Corporation and as "one of the best places to do business" by a survey of site selection consultants conducted by DCI.
  • One of the lowest corporate income taxes in the Southeastern U.S. at 4.6% and no state property or local income tax
  • Very favorable regulatory climate
As a right-to-work state, South Carolina's workforce has one of the lowest unionization rates and lowest work-stoppage rates in the nation.
  • In 2013, just 1.9% of workers in the Charleston metro area were members of an organized union, well below the national average of 11.3%
  • The manufacturing unionization rate in the Charleston region is 5.9%.

Competitive wage structure

The chart below provides wages typically associated with the biosciences sector, or visit our data center to access a more comprehensive list of average wages by occupation (BLS data). For a local wage & benefit survey - broken down by industry sector and company size - contact Michael J. Graney, Vice President, Global Business Development, at 843.760.4526 or

Life Sciences Cluster, Selected Occupations, Charleston S.C. MSA

U. S. BLS Occupation Title and Code  2014 Average Hourly Wage  2014 Median Hourly Wage 
Biological Technicians, 19-4021 $18.36 $17.33
Chemical Engineers, 17-2041 $39.70 $36.87
Chemical Technicians, 19-4031 $20.30 $19.44
Chemists, 19-2031 $39.59 $38.88
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians, 29-2012 $18.98 $18.57
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists, 29-2011 $27.24 $27.60
Medical Equipment Repairers, 49-9062 $21.94 $21.86
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists, 19-1042 $36.26 $30.46
Mixing and Blending Machine Setters, Operators and Tenders, 51-9023 $17.01 $16.52
Pharmacists, 29-1051 $54.07 $56.50
Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Setters, Operators and Tenders, 51-9012 $18.49 $17.72
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6/2015

Life Sciences Firms in the Charleston S.C. MSA

Company  Web Address  Product/Service 
CR Bard - BMD Manufacturing Specialty catheters
Ion Surgical Technologies Products to lessen reliance on bone-displacing implants for rotator cuffs and ACLs
MicroVide, LLC Microdialysis and microfluidics applications to measure pathways and drug effects
Restorative Physiology Group, LLC Implantable devices for treatment of diseases of the human spine
Avancen FDA-approved dispenser using RFID for patient-controlled oral drug delivery
Belimed, Inc. Infection prevention technology for medical, biopharma and research clients
Getinge USA, Inc. Surgical tables and lights
NanoScreen, LLC Syringe heads, pipette tips and liquid handling robots for pharma/biotech research
Sabal Medical, Inc./Swisslog Mobile medication delivery systems with integrated barcode verification
TRUMPF Medical Systems, Inc. Products for the operating theatre and intensive care unit
Varian Interay Fluoroscopic x-ray apparatus and tubes; Interay headquarters
Aeterna Zentaris Biopharmaceutical company that develops novel treatments in oncology and endocrinology; North American business and global commercial operations
ArborGen, LLC Technologies to improve forest sustainability and produce tree-based biofuel
Avoca, Inc. Stanol ester, an active food ingredient proven to reduce cholesterol
Cell & Tissue Systems Cell and tissue preservation and manufacturing techniques for regenerative medicine
Charleston Laboratories, Inc. Opioid drugs with minimal or no opioid-induced nausea and vomiting (start-up)
Charleston Pharma Worldwide exclusive license for use of eight specific antibodies and the method of treating cancer with an anti-nucleolin antibody
Charles River Laboratories Inc. Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) reagents and accessories for endotoxin detection
FirstString Research, Inc. Peptide-based therapies for wound healing, reduced scarring and tissue regeneration (start-up)
Halimed Pharmaceuticals Inc. Early stage biotechnology company developing a pipeline of drugs for affective disorders (start-up)
INNOCUTIS Pharmaceutical and medical device company specializing in the development and commercialization of therapies and devices
Intrexon - Protein Production Division Fully-human antibody-based therapeutics using a 100% invitro system
Iverson Genetics, Charleston Laboratory Advanced genetic testing to health care providers to promote early disease detection
New World Pharmaceuticals/New World Consumer Products Headquarters and R&D and production of a patented sports performance carbohydrate supplement
SphingoGene, Inc. Cancer therapeutic development company focused on sphingolipid metabolism, a key factor in tumor cell survival and metastasis
Vitrologic Rare human biological specimens (primarily serum and plasma) for diagnostics (start-up)
AAIPharma Services Corp. Contract development and manufacturing of sterile products for small molecules, biologics and proteins
Appmet, Inc. Dimensional, physical and electrical calibration services for electronic and electrical test equipment
Advanced Technology International (ATI) Non-profit facilitator of applied research & technology commercialization: biotech, metals, advanced materials, composites, robotics, maritime, energy
Coastal Carolina Research Center Contract clinical trials, medical research and drug studies for a variety of diseases and conditions
D-Finitive Cell Technologies NA Contract R&D services, specializing in hematopoietic and other stem cell products
GEL Laboratories, LLC Mass spectrometry analytical and instrumentation services, radiobioassay services, chemistry and chemical analysis, etc.
Medical Research South, LLC Full service clinical trial management organization
NCGS Laboratory Contract diagnostic and therapeutic clinical trials focusing on infectious diseases and oncology
Palmetto Medical Research (PalMR) Integrated Site Network (ISN) of clinical research facilities
Pharmaceutical Research Network Ophthalmology-dedicated contract research services for pharmaceuticals
Source: Center for Business Research, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 8/2015.