By Sam Konduros
Unprecedented steps are being taken by all of us – businesses and families alike – as we collectively combat the Coronavirus global pandemic that is hitting far too close to home. What was once a news story unfolding in Wuhan, China, only a few months ago has now become a harsh reality right here in the Palmetto State.
As of today, South Carolina has well over 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the death rate is starting to climb – and COVID-19 “hotspots” like New York and New Orleans clearly demonstrate how rapidly this situation can deteriorate if we fail to do our parts with regard to social distancing, hand washing, and adhering to the mandate to stay at home as much as possible. The economic hardships that are accompanying the healthcare impacts of this horrific virus are painfully real and will hit many of our companies and citizens without mercy. None of us will be untouched, and unfortunately the toughest days are still ahead…
On a truly encouraging note, collaboration, cooperation, innovation, and goodwill are being displayed by our stakeholders. SCBIO is integrating our efforts and resources closely with numerous fellow associations, agencies and organizations on a simultaneous basis. The SC Department of Commerce, SC Hospital Association, SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the SC Research Authority are only a few of our respected partners that we are working virtually with on a daily basis to do whatever is possible to address vital needs. This potentially catastrophic event is spurring amazing ideas and heroic efforts that will echo for decades to come.
The life sciences and healthcare industries are valiantly front and center as the beacons of hope for conquering this invisible foe. SCBIO is grateful to have a relevant role on the COVID-19 battlefield, but is most humbled to see the brilliance and resourcefulness of the companies and organizations we support and represent. There are far too many examples to highlight, but we are so proud of large and small member companies like Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Vikor Scientific, Precision Genetics, Thorne, Abbott Labs, and Humimic that have fearlessly stepped-up, retooled, and refocused to rapidly create desperately needed solutions to arm clinicians and healthcare providers with vital tools they need to effectively carry out their mission to literally save lives – ranging from COVID-19 test kits to respiratory therapies to face shields.
In our role as the Palmetto State’s life sciences industry lead organization, SCBIO has aggressively pivoted our activities to adapt to the demands of the current crisis, making significant decisions to keep our focus where it needs to be – and to demonstrate prioritization of our own work program in a manner that directly relates with the realities that our state and nation are facing. We want and need to hear from you about your efforts – and anything we can do to help.
As meaningful as it is to gather together and convene, until some point in the future, nobody needs to be talking about conferences or sponsorships – and the thought of gathering hundreds of people is almost unimaginable at present. Based on that unavoidable truth – and our commitment to be an impactful problem-solver in this crisis – our signature SCBIO Annual Conference has been shifted from its historical time frame of October (2020) to February 16-18, 2021 in Charleston.
In closing, SCBIO’s current focus will continue to be:
- Solving supply chain issues by linking life sciences solution providing companies with healthcare providers and clinicians as rapidly as possible
- Working collaboratively with complementary agencies and organizations to solve a myriad of issues that are challenging our industry, as well as our healthcare professionals on the front lines treating patients in need
- Seeking capital and offering support to companies that have novel solutions to combat COVID-19 – but need assistance to scale up
- Conducting weekly webinars on highly relevant topics and COVID-19-related issues to various targeted audiences, ranging from FDA navigation and compliance to small business assistance to leading-edge science-based updates regarding the Coronavirus
- Retrieving and disseminating substantive and data-based/critical information about COVID-19 and making it readily available on our website’s dedicated Coronavirus portal
- Markedly increasing our overall communications by providing two newsletters per month, and launching a short update every week with our new Monday Moment series – featuring crucial updates and member companies that are making a difference, with a little inspiration on the side
- Maintaining a steady series of virtual meetings with companies and organizations across the state and beyond to continue building and advancing life sciences in South Carolina
- Pursuing new grants and funding for high-impact workforce, innovation, and economic development strategies that can directly contribute to our mission
- Honing our infrastructure and skill-sets with the goal of becoming the most effective statewide life sciences industry organization in America
And, finally… Helping whoever we can, whenever we can – as unforeseen opportunities continue to present themselves on a daily basis
It is easy for an atmosphere of fear and anxiousness to hang in the air at a time like this, and each of us will experience some of that on certain days in such an alien season of life. But we can’t give into that. We are strong individually, but infinitely stronger together…We need God and each other more than ever, and there truly is a unique opportunity in the midst of this to learn, grow, and become better.
Our planet depends on Life Sciences… What a privilege for all of us to be part of that.
Let’s fight the battle courageously, together – and seize the opportunity that has been presented.
Wishing all of you health, safety, and peace – Godspeed
Sam Konduros is the President and CEO of SCBIO. 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 whose members are leading the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental products that transform how we heal, fuel and feed the world.