The life sciences industry is growing in South Carolina, but those in the field want to grow even further.
The South Carolina Biotechnology Industry Organization says more than 400 companies operate in the state’s medical technology sector.
“It’s an industry that is definitely on the move,” SCBIO President and CEO Sam Konduros said. “I would say for the state to now be taking a much more deliberate approach to the industry, really for the first time for many years, it was just organic growth.”
A study completed by the Darla Moore School of Business through the South Carolina Department of Commerce shows an industry growth of 1.7 percent since 2005.
“An $11.4 billion a year impact on South Carolina’s economy, with well over 400 pure life service companies… and some of the highest-paying jobs in the state,” Konduros said.
A separate Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America study maintained clinical trials alone contributed nearly $8 billion to the state’s economy. There are currently more than 572 active trials ongoing in South Carolina.
“It was quite surprising not only to learn that the industry had become as large and multi-faceted as it had almost on its own, but it also, on a relative basis, is the fastest-growing component of our innovation economy right now,” Konduros said. “We are, while still a more fledgling industry, have a great deal of traction and a pretty huge impact on the economy already.”
He cited the example of Nephron making a more than $300 million investment by moving from Florida to the Columbia area, hiring nearly 1,000 employees.
Some of the industry’s worldwide leaders will be in Charleston this month for SCBIO’s annual conference. The conference includes members from South Carolina academia, research facilities, economic development, expert core service providers, law firms, research groups and contractors.
Konduros also said SCBIO has been working with state leaders to develop an overall plan for the field. “We created the state’s first-ever strategic plan for the life sciences industry that the state has ever had and there’s a lot of substance in it,” he said. “That document has become an extremely important tool in how we are moving forward and how we continue to move forward.”