Thought Leadership Series

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Tech Startup Trends

Bob Quinn, SCRA Executive Director 

Innovation is alive and well in South Carolina and is having an increasing impact on our state’s economy. We at the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) have a front-row seat to many of the exciting developments coming from our colleges, universities, technology startups, and industry partners from across our state. We also have experienced the effects the pandemic has had on these institutions and sectors and how, during the lockdown, the dearth of activities and events led to a marked decline in innovation development and commercialization. Read more on page 19.

Tips for Pitching

Matt Bell, SC Launch Director 

Early in my career, I was working with a young, talented faculty member at the University of Michigan on the commercialization of one of his innovations. We thought we had everything figured out. The technical path for developing his technology, the capital required to get it there, the expertise required to translate the technology, and the strategic partner who would be desperate for our idea. We set an agreed upon date to present to the company, put our deck together, and pitched them an idea on which they couldn’t possibly pass. We failed spectacularly. Many years, and a few hundred pitches, later, I look back on that first attempt and recognize the mistakes and presumptions that I see many founding entrepreneurs make even today.  Read more on page 31.

Think of Money as a Tool to Build Your Business

Cole Dudley, Director of SC Industry Solutions

Why did you start your business? Really think about it. Why? What are your hopes and dreams? Why are you doing this? You are investing a large part of your life and you will ask others to join, so you really need to know your goals. And those goals, in my humble opinion, need to go deeper than just making money.

When looking for an investor partner, and I do mean partner, seek people to whom you will be married for many years. You’re not just looking for money. Let that sink in, it’s not all about the money! Money is a tool. It does not grow a business. Money will come if you build a good business, and the partner you are seeking will help you build that business. Your first task is to identify someone who buys into your vision, adds value beyond the money, and with whom you have mutual respect. Read more on page 47.

Deliver Value to Industry Through Technology Transfer

Catherine Hayes, Industry Manager

Quite brilliantly, South Carolina leveraged the textile industry success and an experienced manufacturing workforce to transition to high-tech advanced manufacturing. Home to over 6,500 manufacturing companies employing over 250,000 people, manufactures must innovate, adopt new technology, retool, and retrain their workforce to remain competitive in the global economy. From engineers to CEOs, we hear the urgency to “race to innovate to stay competitive”. From benchmarking in SCRA‘s Corporate Innovation Form, we see similar innovation challenges resurface across the industry verticals – despite differences in volumes, product mix, and supply chains – and innovation best practices can be shared. Read more on page 23.

Securing the Right Space for Your Business

Randy Cutts, Director or SC Facilities

Most companies start from a basic idea or premise of creating some thing that the market needs or wants. Often, the result is the primary focus while the process and requirements to meet that result are secondary. For example, transitioning from working from your home office or garage to leasing commercial space can be a daunting prospect, and is often the largest new expense for a company. Proactively preparing for this transition is a key to avoiding costly mistakes. Read more on page 23.

Moving innovations out of the lab and into the market

Sohail Malik, Director or SC Academic Innovations

Innovation ecosystems and economic growth in the US and across the world depend on an efficient lab to market process. A lab can be a highly sophisticated and well equipped place at a research university or federal research facility. On the other hand, it can be a garage or a basement, which have historically served as home for several famous start up companies like Amazon, Google, HP and more. Read more on page 23.