Mike Randall, Chief Marketing Officer, Health Sciences South Carolina
You are the chief economic development officer for Health Sciences South Carolina. What is Health Sciences South Carolina and why does a biomedical research collaborative need an economic development person?
The short answer is that healthcare is a major economic engine in South Carolina and in the U.S. economy. Approximately 16 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product is spent on health sciences. As our population grows and ages, demand for new drugs, devices and technology, along with general healthcare services, will continue to grow and create job opportunities. Health Sciences South Carolina was formed in 2004 by the visionary leaders of the state's largest universities (Clemson University, MUSC and the University of South Carolina) and health systems (Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, Palmetto Health and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System) who recognized that biomedical research could be the catalyst to ignite the state's economy and improve its health. The focus of Health Sciences South Carolina's first five years was to help establish health sciences-related Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEEs) that were enabled by the South Carolina General Assembly and have been funded in part by the South Carolina Lottery. We have recruited world-class researchers, developed support infrastructure, and begun the research that will lead to a growing number of health sciences-related economic development opportunities.
I was recruited in 2008 to focus on the business of Health Sciences South Carolina's research initiatives, and that is to connect businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, attorneys, accountants, financiers, and others who are looking for opportunities to purchase technology, start companies, or provide the professional services that support business. Additionally, I help HSSC secure grant funding vital to the infrastructure aspects of our economic development vision.
What makes you the right person for the job?
We all have talents we bring to the table. In my case, I've earned three degrees in engineering and materials sciences as well as an MBA. I've worked for global companies on new technologies and products that resulted in revenues to those companies in excess of $100 million per year. I have developed technologies resulting in eight U.S. patents and have more than ten additional patents in process. Over the course of my 18-year career, I have brought university researchers and corporate development folks together to develop materials and product platforms that are commercially successful for companies and communities. This prepared me for my position with Health Sciences South Carolina.
It's very exciting to be associated with the only statewide biomedical research organization in the United States that has top universities and hospital systems working together as one entity. Great things are happening, including our first big economic development summit, HEAL SC, March 2 and 3 in Columbia at the Hilton Columbia Center in the Vista.
Why is Health Sciences South Carolina sponsoring a health-related economic development summit?
There are several reasons, but the biggest one is the time is right. South Carolina, like the rest of the country, is working hard to pull out of the worst economic downturn in decades. People are looking for opportunities to start companies, invest and put people to work. At the same time, Health Sciences South Carolina now supports 13 Economic Centers of Excellence whose researchers are beginning to develop technologies that have the potential to become commercial home runsnew drugs to treat cancer, new tests to diagnose heart disease, new techniques to "grow" human tissue for transplant or to use as a heart pacemaker. The goal of HEAL SC is to begin the process of connecting the researchers who are the creative and intellectual engines behind our state's emerging health sciences industry with those people who know how to start and support new business ventures. It's all about connections, putting people together in order to make things happen economically and health-wise for South Carolina.
What all is planned for HEAL SC?
This is a first for South Carolina: two big days focused entirely on healthcare-related economic development and starting the connection process between researchers, investors, business people, and others with an entrepreneurial bent. On Day One, Tuesday, March 2, we are bringing in national experts who have lived the entrepreneurial dream and won. They include Steven Johnson of CreatiVasc, a 20-year veteran in tech transfer and commercialization; Todd Sherer, Emory University, who manages more than 800 active technologies developed by university researchers; and Julie Goonewardene of Purdue University who herself is a successful entrepreneur, having founded and sold two companies. We'll also showcase a proven South Carolina biotech entrepreneur, Dr. Charles Smith of MUSC, who is founder, president and CEO of Apogee Biotech Corporation in Charleston. It's not just formal talks; these folks will be available for questions and networking.
Also on first day, from 5-7:30 p.m., there's a networking event at the Hilton Columbia Center hosted by Health Sciences South Carolina and SCRA for members of the South Carolina General Assembly and all HEAL SC attendees. There will be refreshments and plenty of opportunities for people to connect and begin developing relationships that are crucial to successful commercialization.
Day Two, Wednesday, March 3, will focus entirely on connecting attendees with South Carolina's Centers of Economic Excellence talent, the researchers at the Health Sciences South Carolina-supported Centers of Economic Excellence who are doing the heavy lifting by creating the new technologies. Nine of these researchers will provide insight into their work, including economic development opportunities. Dr. Paul Eleazer of USC will be showing us technology he and his team are working on to preserve the independence of senior citizens. David Allison of Clemson will be discussing innovations in the area of architecture and environmental design. Dr. Robert Adams of MUSC will do a live demonstration of stroke telemedicine technology, which has commercial applications for other diseases and medical specialties. Again, there will be time for questions and networking. The complete list of speakers and agenda can be found at http://www.HealthSciencesSC.org.
You keep mentioning the importance of connections. Why is this a focus of HEAL SC?
We all want South Carolina to get back on track economically. And it's going to take collaboration to do so. We have some committed partners. Health Sciences South Carolina and its member organizations Clemson, MUSC, USC, Greenville Hospital System, Palmetto Health, and Spartanburg Regional have taken the lead with ground-breaking biomedical research. The Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEE) Program created by the General Assembly has been incredibly visionary in promoting and supporting research-driven economic development. SCRA and SCLAUNCH! are also doing a phenomenal job encouraging and supporting business startups.
Now it's now time for a formal event like HEAL SC that brings everyone together - business people, researchers, university professors and grad students, healthcare providers, lawmakers, and private citizens - to connect and make things happen for our state.
Finally, who's invited to the event and where do they get more information?
HEAL SC is open to the public; and I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about the health-related economic development opportunities in our state to attend. The technologies under development in South Carolina are fascinating. There is a registration fee to attend one or both days plus the power-networking event. All the information is available at www.HealthSciencesSC.org. Hope to see you there!