CoEE Program Reports Progress on Growth of State’s Knowledge Economy

November 13, 2007

COLUMBIA, SC November 13, 2007 —The South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEE) Program is helping the state improve its economy and become more competitive, according to a report being submitted today by the CoEE Review Board to the state Budget & Control Board.

The report focuses on the program’s progress from 2003 to 2006 and its efforts to expand South Carolina’s knowledge-based economy.

The CoEE Program grants awards to the state’s three research universities (Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina) to create Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEEs), along with associated endowed professorships, in technology-based fields that are likely to enhance the state’s economy. Each award must be matched dollar-for-dollar with funds from private, federal, or municipal sources.

By the end of the 2006 fiscal year (FY) the CoEE Review Board had approved 29 research centers and 48 endowed chair positions, 7 of which were appointed. As the General Assembly envisioned, the program has reaped economic returns for the state: the report indicates that at the close of FY 2006, of the $118 million awarded by the Review Board, $80 million in non-state matches had been pledged, with more than $48 million in pledges realized and $41.6 million in state funds drawn down by the research institutions. (The report also states that at the close of FY 2007, these totals improved to $144 million, $89 million, $62 million, and $54 million,

Each research institution has developed focus areas within the CoEE program.

Clemson University has strengths in automotive engineering (four CoEE endowed chairs are at the International Center for Automotive Research [CU-ICAR]), as well as in architectural science and materials development.

MUSC’s strengths are in neuroscience, cancer research, vascular disease, and health care quality and finance.

USC’s strengths are in future fuels (including hydrogen and solid oxide fuel cell research), biomedical science, and nanotechnology.

“We are very proud and excited to provide the Budget & Control Board with a written record of the progress of the CoEE Program,” said Paula Harper-Bethea, chair of the CoEE Review Board. “This document will help Budget & Control Board members better understand the tangible benefits this crucial program is producing for South Carolina.”

The CoEE Program has a mandate to enhance the state’s economy by building private-public research partnerships in key, knowledge-economy fields that will bring non-state dollars into South Carolina and create better-paying jobs. A hallmark of the CoEE Program is extensive research collaboration between Clemson, USC, and MUSC. One-third of the CoEEs are scientific partnerships between and among South Carolina public institutions. According to the report, “Dr. John Schaefer, endowed chair-holder at MUSC’s CoEE in Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety, has noted that such academic collaboration rarely exists anywhere in the nation—not even at Harvard and Yale.”

2003–2006 CoEE Program Economic Development Highlights

Technology Transfer

• The Regenerative Medicine CoEE (MUSC/Clemson/USC) has filed for several patents in wound-healing technology.

• The CoEE in Molecular Proteomics in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Treatment (MUSC) is in business discussions for its biomarker testing system concept.

Increased Research Funding

• The Proteomics CoEE is affiliated with the MUSC Proteomics Center, which recently received the largest competitive extramural research award ever awarded in the state ($18.7 million).

• The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded the Polymer Nanocomposites CoEE (USC) a $901,000 grant.

Corporate Relocation

• The Timken Company, BMW and Michelin have all located corporate teams and offices at CU-ICAR. Timken’s partnership at CU-ICAR is expected to generate at least 110 high-paying jobs in the Upstate.

• Dr. Charles Smith of the Cancer Drug Discovery CoEE (MUSC/USC) is relocating his company, Apogee Biotechnology, to Charleston. Apogee controls a  portfolio of valuable pending patents for the study of various diseases.

Spin-off Companies

• The Regenerative Medicine CoEE has launched a spin-off company, FirstString, which markets wound repair technology.

• Cephos Corporation, a spin-off company of the Brain Imaging CoEE (USC/MUSC), uses brain imaging technology to detect deception.

• The Neurosciences CoEE (MUSC) has supported the creation of SemiAlloGen, Inc., a biotech company that develops therapeutics in the field of neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.

Public-Private Partnerships

• Endowed chair–holder Dr. Kenneth Tew has established a mutual program between the CoEE in Translational Cancer Therapeutics (MUSC/USC) and Novelos Pharmaceuticals. This partnership has produced a translational research effort in the arenas of lung and ovarian cancer.

• The CoEE endowed chairs in Automotive Manufacturing and Automotive Systems Integration (CU-ICAR) are in major discussions to establish private sector partnerships with companies such as General Motors, IBM, Toyota, Honda, Daimler-Chrysler, Hewlett-Packard, Nissan, and the Robert Bosch Corporation.

To view the full report, South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence 2003–2006, visit, then look for the report listing under “Program Briefings.”

About the Program
The S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence Program was established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2002, with $200 million appropriated from the South Carolina Education Lottery Account to fund the program through 2010.

The legislation authorizes the state’s three public research institutions, MUSC, Clemson, and USC, to use state funds to create Centers of Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina’s economy.

Each Center of Economic Excellence is awarded from $2 million to $5 million in state funds, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with federal, private, or municipal funds. The program also supports CoEE endowed chairs, world-renowned scientists who lead the Centers of Economic Excellence. By investing in talent and technology, the CoEE Program is designed to fuel the state’s knowledge economy, resulting in higher-paying jobs and an improved standard of living in South Carolina.