MEDICA, the annual flagship event of the medical devices industry, is fast approaching, and Mike Graney, CRDA’s Vice President, Global Business Development, will be in Duesseldorf next week, to highlight the many advantages that Charleston I SC I USA has to offer.
In fact, biomedical companies locating in Charleston are joining a growing band of international firms that have chosen the region as a key US base. They’re also plugging into an impressive local network that supports entrepreneurialism in the sector; offers readily-available product development platforms and clinical trials, and allows access to a pool of local talent that is being built from high school level up, through the local technical college and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
A key attraction for companies like Germany-headquartered Trumpf Medical, is the fact that MUSC is located in the heart of downtown Charleston. It’s the region’s largest biomedical employer, with nearly 13,000 workers, and carries out research projects worth more than $230 million a year. “MUSC has been very welcoming and open to working with us”, says Andy Reding, US General Manager at Trumpf. “We’re able to get a level of access here that I just don’t think would be possible in other metropolitan areas. The hospitals see it as part of their responsibility to help grow the local business community.”
Within MUSC, the office of research and sponsored programs allows businesses to support relevant research programs at the university, and the Foundation for Research Development – provides a platform for the marketing and licensing of MUSC technologies to corporate partners. Since it became MUSC’s technology transfer office in 1998, FRD has filed patent applications on more than 320 technologies, executed 148 licences and spun out more than 46 start-up companies.
MUSC’s reputation has led to collaborations and partnerships with companies worldwide that are choosing to make the university’s business-oriented programs a key part of their development strategy. Last year Aeterna Zentaris Inc., a specialty biopharmaceutical company developing novel treatments in oncology and endocrinology, chose to locate its newest North American business and global commercial operations in the Charleston region, with a $1 million investment. A key driver in that decision was the potential for strategic partnerships with MUSC and other clinical and research facilities in the area as part of the company’s ongoing research and development activities.
And opportunities for collaboration with MUSC are set to increase, as it moves ahead with plans to create “Center for Medical Innovation and Entrepreneurialism”, whose mission is to promote entrepreneurship, leverage the expertise of peer institutions, and partner with industry.
At the same time, the University has set up a new unit focusing on developing and licensing new technologies in neuroscience, using a model which it is hoped will be scaled up to include other areas of study.
Elsewhere, the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) – a non-profit contract R&D organization set up to grow South Carolina’s knowledge economy – has, in partnership with the state’s three research universities, established a network of Innovation Centers and Launch Zones to assist start-up and existing businesses with commercializing new technologies. Through these Centers, qualifying companies are eligible for equity financing of up to $200,000. The 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. The center is attracting a wide range of companies and research teams to the region and currently serves as home for eight biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
And SC Launch, an SCRA collaboration set up to facilitate applied research, product development and commercialization programs – and to strengthen South Carolina’s Knowledge Economy by creating high wage-earning jobs – offers qualifying companies commercialization support, guidance and seed funding, and was recognized by Forbes as one of the 2010 Top Five Entrepreneurial Support Programs in the U.S.
This growing network is supported by SCBIO, a member organization that promotes South Carolina’s life science industry through collaboration, advocacy, workforce development, and help for business operations. In the Charleston region, which today has more than 35 medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers, and more than 50 research laboratories and development companies, SCBIO and the wider support network have a growing role to play, and are themselves part of the reason why Charleston is garnering international recognition as an important emerging biomedical market.
More information about CRDA’s presence at MEDICA 2015 is available at http://www.crda.org/medica.