About SC Innovates

The SmartState Center for Innovation + Commercialization

In South Carolina, we’re serious about creating opportunities for those with a stake in our state’s economy. So much so that we have a Center of Economic Excellence within the SmartState Program dedicated to the study and advancement of innovation and commercialization.

“We live in a world with an insatiable appetite for disruptive technology. University research and knowledge fuel innovation and as such, are critical economic engines. SC Innovates is about bringing together people and organizations that will benefit from universities’ research and capacity to prepare future leaders.”

Laura B. Cardinal, SmartState Endowed Chair + Director, SC Innovates

SC Innovates, the SmartState Center for Innovation + Commercialization, is located within the University of South Carolina (UofSC) Darla Moore School Business (DMSB). SC Innovates was created to connect the more than 50 SmartState Centers at UofSC, Clemson University, and the Medical University of South Carolina with companies, organizations, and individuals interested in tapping into the expertise of the nearly 75 SmartState Endowed Chairs and their research labs.

Meet SC Innovates’ leader, Laura B. Cardinal. In 2016, UofSC succeeded in recruiting Laura B. Cardinal, PhD, an expert in Organizational Studies, as the SmartState Endowed Chair and Director of the SmartState Center for Innovation + Commercialization. The corporate sponsors of Cardinal’s Center and Endowed Chair are the Fluor Foundation and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, two powerful entities in South Carolina and the world.

Cardinal’s expertise is in high demand. America’s global leadership in technology fields is largely due to its ability to successfully innovate and commercialize all manner of products and services. Today, the pace of innovation has never been faster. Technology has never been so complex. Competition from nations like China and India has never been so intense. Closer to home, South Carolina competes with the neighboring states for academic talent, research dollars, corporate enterprises, and a knowledge economy workforce. Preparing current and future innovation leaders is integral to Cardinal’s role as a SmartState Endowed Chair. She currently teaches within the DMSB’s Professional MBA (PMBA) program, leveraging her expertise in managing innovation, R&D, and commercialization within the structure of modern corporations.

SC Innovates bridges the gap between academic research and corporate commercialization. South Carolina is home to vibrant industry clusters that include aerospace, automotive, advanced materials and nanotechnology, biomedical, energy and smart grid, information technology, and pharmaceutical. Scientists and researchers and their business counterparts often speak very different languages. SC Innovates, through its initiatives, outreach, PMBA courses, and SmartState Endowed Chair connections, seeks to inspire greater synergy between academia and business as well as facilitate more opportunities in South Carolina for corporate technology firms, tech-consuming companies, small-to-medium enterprise firms (SMEs), investment, leaders, job creators, and students.

SC Innovates and our SmartState colleagues have smart backing. All SmartState Centers have sponsors; it was a requirement for state matching funds. Visionary companies as well as private foundations didn’t need much convincing. Among those stepping up to sponsor Centers are the AT&T Foundation, BASF, BlueCross BlueShield of SC Foundation, BMW, Boeing, Duke Energy, Fluor Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, GM, Hertz, Mazda, Michelin, Smith & Nephew, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Sonoco, The Duke Endowment, Timken, U.S. Navy, and many more. The research of SmartState Chairs is also backed by federal grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and others also reliant on innovation.

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