Wednesday, October 16, 2013

EngenuitySC Hosts STEM Workforce Development Workshop

EngenuitySC hosted the second installment of the Columbia Regional Competitiveness Workshop Series at River Bluff High School on Wednesday, October 9. We brought together business leaders, educators, public officials, and parents to discuss the future of our knowledge-based workforce. 

We kicked off the event with a tour of the innovative facilities at the new River Bluff High School in Lexington to discuss what is being done today for the future STEM stakeholders. The tour was then followed by an engaging discussion on the current state, opportunities, and necessary future actions to make the Midlands a STEM hotspot. 

For those who attended the event, here is a recap and if you couldn't make it, this is what you missed:

For Parents, did you know that…….

  • over the next 5 years, our region will create over 12,000 new jobs requiring 2-yr degrees in STEM fields? See here for the projected numbers!
  • the Michelin Technical Scholars program pays full tuition at Midlands Technical College and graduates from the program exhibit a 98% success rate in finding full time employment at Michelin? For more info visit:
  • Lexington School District 1 allows all  high school students to major in engineering and has built an advanced STEM Center for students who wish to focus their high school studies in these areas? See for more info.
  • There are hundreds of events and resources in your district available through MEBA, aimed to help your children’s development?  Their resource guides can be found at
  • Lower Richland High School has developed a STEM Academy, which focuses on both the core STEM subjects as much as on the soft skills desperately needed by employers? To find out more visit:
  • River Bluff High School’s modular scheduling system focuses on team collaboration in all STEM areas, which is especially helpful in developing core skills like teamwork and communication? Get more info here:
  • IT-oLogy offers free Cyber Saturdays for middle school and high school students interested in learning how to develop apps and video games? Visit IT-oLogy to find out more

For Business and Community Leaders, did you know that…..

  • Teachers desperately need working professionals in STEM fields involved in their classrooms and that MEBA offers a speakers bureau that you and your staff can easily join? Interested? See here to find out more
  • Most parents and students don’t know what advanced manufacturing jobs look like and that schools desperately need companies to open their doors to show parents and students what a modern facility looks like?  If you’re willing to help our students and parents learn what 21st century manufacturing is really like, reach out to your school district office and open your doors to students.
  • Michelin, through its Technical Scholars program, is collaborating with academia to develop a workforce of skilled technicians who possess today's most critical skills? To learn more about Michelin Technical Scholars, click here or contact Michelin Hiring Manager Randy Crutfield (  

For Educators, did you know that….

  • Many regional employers note that a strong STEM education will get your students jobs, but that they’ll lose them without the soft skills (teamwork, communication, punctuality) needed to keep them?  Click here to see what Lower Richland and River Bluff High Schools are doing to address this: and
  • Michelin needs to grow its workforce and get more students involved in their Technical Scholars Program and that they need greater visibility from you to help make this happen?
  • Parents, students, and guidance counselors need a better understanding of opportunities of a 2-year degree?  If you need info on these see MEBA online

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Green Gasoline and U.S Energy Independence with Dr. John Regalbuto

Join us at Science Cafe
EngenuitySC's popular networking event and lecture series continues this October, venturing into a new field of expertise. We would like to introduce our speaker, Dr. John Regalbuto! Read all about Dr. Regalbuto below. 

Join us for our latest installment of the series where Dr. Regalbuto will talk green gasoline and U.S. energy independence. 

Come grab a drink in one of our smart-looking Science Cafe pint glasses, and mix and mingle with fellow science-oriented Columbians. Get excited, get your questions, and join us!

When and Where
Dr. John Regalbuto
SmartState Endowed Chair of Catalysis in Renewable Fuels, Professor and Director of the new Energy Leadership Institute (ELI)
University of South Carolina

Tuesday, October 8th

711 Saluda Ave. Columbia, SC 29205

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Dr. John Regalbuto, SmartState Endowed Chair of Catalysis in Renewable Fuels, Professor and Director of the new Energy Leadership Institute (ELI) at the University of South Carolina, Former Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program Director for the National Science Foundation

There is tremendous global interest focused on renewable fuel sources for transportation. Dr. John Regalbuto’s research is aimed at developing new catalysts for the production of hydrogen and alternative fuels from renewable sources for the transportation sector

He joined the University of South Carolina (USC) from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Chemical Engineering, where he had been for 25 years. During that time, Dr. Regalbuto also served as Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program Director for the National Science Foundation, Directorate for Engineering, where he was intimately involved in the promotion of catalysis and biocatalysis for hydrocarbon biofuels.

Dr. Regalbuto has extensive industry experience. While on sabbatical leaves, he has worked with the Honeywell, Division of Catalysis and Separations and the UOP Research Center. He led Summer Faculty Research Programs at the Argonne National Laboratory and the University Methane Utilization Program at Amoco Oil Company. 

Dr. Regalbuto has been or is currently serving as a consultant to numerous organizations, including BP Chemical Company; the Korean Institute of Energy Research, Taejon, Korea; the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna, Austria; Shell Chemical Company; and the Gas Research Institute, Chicago, Ill.  Read more of Dr. Regalbuto's bio here 

Learn more about Dr. Schaefer's background and register for the event at

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Public Works of HeART Kicks Off First Campaign

Ignite! 2012 winner, Public Works of HeART, has kicked off their first mural crowd-funding campaign, giving some Gamecock spirit to a local water tower while feeding the hungry.

The target of the first mural campaign? An eye sore of a water tower located next to the Gamecocks new golf facility in Cayce. The plans for the mural are to display an attractive mural of a Gamecock golf player silhouette along with signage for the location. The mural can be viewed all around the area along with flights coming into the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

Not only will this campaign bring recognition to the University of South Carolina and solve an eye sore problem, but will also raise money for a great cause. The project is funded by crowd-sourcing, where people can purchase two square-feet of mural for $25. A portion of the proceeds will then be donated to the Harvest Hope Food Bank, with the potential of donating a total of $50,000. 

The initiative launched on September 23, and has already received attention from local news outlets such as WISTV and the Daily Gamecock.

Innovative, multi-faceted ideas such as this are exactly what Ignite! - EngenuitySC's annual knowledge economy celebration - is all about. The creation and advancement of ideas like Public Works of HeART are vital to the success of Columbia and the Midlands region. 

If you have an innovative idea and want to bring it to fruition to help our community, we encourage you to enter the Ignite! 2013 Ideas Contest. Three finalists will present their ideas to an audience of 500 at Ignite! 2013 and will be voted on to win $5,000 for the execution of their idea. Now solidify your plan, pitch it, and good luck! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Innovative Start-Ups are Choosing Urban Lofts Over the Traditional Suburban Business Park

Research has shown an immense geographical shift of start-up activity from suburban parks to urban lofts, which should be considered in any urban planning. 

Recent studies by economist Richard Florida have shown, time and time again, that the innovative thinkers behind today's successful start-ups are moving to urban centers. Throughout the later stages of the 20th century, many of the nation's largest start-ups, including the ranks of Apple and Microsoft, started in "low-rise office parks just off highway interchanges." 

However, the modern start-up techie wants to be surrounded by inspiration and collaboration in an exciting and fast-paced lifestyle, guiding them towards more urban spaces. The benefits of these moves can be viewed in the increased opportunities for partnership, investors, and modern way of life. 

This trend has been viewed over the past 5-10 years throughout the nation, so what can we do to continue to develop Columbia as a start-up hot spot? We have resources in place, like our friends at CETi, the USC/Columbia Technology Incubator, and even have space at SOCO, but what can we do to continue this trend and growth in Columbia?

Trends and growth like this are greatly considered with the efforts of the Columbia Regional Competitiveness Initiative (CRCI). We must look at current and future trends to continue bringing Columbia to the forefront of competitiveness in the region and the nation, and adapting to trends such as this can only help the business environment of Columbia. CRCI is in it to win it, and this is just one of the approaches. 

If you want to read the full article on this start-up trend by economist Richard Florida, read it here

Monday, September 9, 2013

EngenuitySC to Host Ignite! Knowledge Economy Celebration on Nov. 20, 2013 @ The Zone

EngenuitySC has set Nov. 20, 2013 as the date for Ignite!, the region’s annual knowledge economy celebration. The event will be hosted at The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium, in Columbia, S.C., from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy an evening of short, keynote talks by local thought leaders, open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres and networking, as well as a lively session of audience voting to select the winner of the Ignite! 2013 Ideas contest. An afterparty, free and open to the public, will be held at Social Bar and Lounge in the Vista. 

For information about Ignite! visit: Major sponsors for Ignite! 2013 are BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and Wells Fargo Bank.

A sold-out success each year, this 500-guest event is where CEO-level business, political and technology leaders come to network with the Midlands’ up-and-coming talent, from new media innovators and entrepreneurs to young professionals working in the knowledge economy. 

Hosts include Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, S.C., and Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina, who serve as the Co-Chairs of the EngenuitySC Executive Committee. 

George Hutton, Executive Director of EngenuitySC, expressed enthusiasm for this year’s event. "We're thrilled with this year's program and the level of interest we're receiving from our partners and the community – it's going to be a great celebration of our region's entrepreneurial and innovation success stories."

The event will progress as follows: 

• Networking happy hour with open bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres with an emphasis on healthy, local/sustainable foods, courtesy of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
• Five 6-minute talks by Midlands innovators
• Short presentations by the three Ignite! Ideas Contest finalists
• Live audience voting via text message balloting, to choose the winner of the Ignite! Ideas Contest $5000 prize, courtesy of Wells Fargo Bank. Past winners include Will Bryan of Public Works of HeArt and Jim Stritzinger of EnduringFX. 
• Free afterparty at Social Bar & Lounge in the Vista, 8:30pm-10:30pm

Local entrepreneurs with an idea that can move the Midlands forward are encouraged to enter the $5000 Ignite! Ideas Contest by submitting a short, two-minute video detailing their concept. 

Videos can be very informal. Enter here

Stay on top of Ignite! 2013 updates by following the #IgniteCAE hashtag and @EngenuitySC on Twitter or via Facebook:

About EngenuitySC

Headquartered in Columbia, EngenuitySC is a public/private partnership formed to develop and grow the South Carolina Midlands’ knowledge-based economy by fostering an environment where entrepreneurship, innovation, and the creation of knowledge are fundamental elements of the region’s culture, identity, and economic development strategy. Through collaboration with business, government, and higher education, EngenuitySC leads initiatives that support research development, promote commercialization, and leverage the region’s assets. For more information, visit

Tracie Broom, Flock and Rally, 415.235.5718,
Debi Schadel, Flock and Rally, 803.348.8861,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

USC Providing Entrepreneurial Talent to Columbia

Andrew Lee was prepared to leave Columbia upon graduation from USC, but when the opportunity came to pursue his entrepreneurial endeavors, he decided to stay.

With the help of professors and personnel at the University of South Carolina, Lee has co-founded, and now runs, Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems, or IMCS. An innovative start-up involved in the R&D/safety testing process of many products, IMCS has created a unique micro-filter that dramatically speeds this portion of development. 

There exists a slew of products and processes that involve separating a specific material from a complex mixture, which is mainly part of safety testing. These filters, developed by Lee and IMCS, not only cut down on wasted time, but also increase efficiency in an array of processes, such as testing a patient's Vitamin D levels in their blood. 

And all of this is happening right here in Columbia. Lee now runs IMCS, which is housed in the IdeaLabs of the Horizon building, part of USC's Innovista district - the research facility district, managed by the newly-developed USC Office of Economic Engagement. 

This is exactly the type of entrepreneurial talent we love to showcase at our annual showcase event, Ignite! EngenuitySC works tirelessly to find, showcase, and connect Columbia's innovative talent of the creative class to further innovate our knowledge economy. Check out the exciting happenings at the nationally-recognized event and attend in November! 

Read more about Lee's success as an entrepreneur and IMCS here

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Columbia: one of America's "10 Great Places to Live"

Mayor Steve Benjamin delivered the news - Columbia has been named as one of America's "10 Great Places to Live" in a recent list by Kiplinger.

Kiplinger releases this ranking annually, focusing on small and mid-size cities, considering metro areas with a population of one million or less. Their main criteria for the ranking: "good jobs, reasonably priced homes, decent schools, great health care and manageable size are all essential parts of the mix." 

This is just one of many recent accolades to which Columbia and the Midlands have been named. The efforts of both public officials and the Columbia business community are coming to fruition in the form of national recognition as the great place that it is. 

Our partnership with the Midlands Urban Land Institute aims to continue this success with urban planning as the main plan of action. The Midlands Reality Check event in October will bring together 300 leaders in the Midlands community to map out a plan for the proposed population growth of 450,000 over the next 25 years, to continue our recent successes. All of this is done to ensure that we grow in the best way possible: by choice, not chance.

Check out Kiplinger's full ranking here

Monday, July 29, 2013

Clinical Effectiveness, Patient Safety, and the Process of Commercializing Technologies with Dr. Schaefer

Join us at Science Cafe
EngenuitySC's popular networking event and lecture series continues this August, venturing into a few field of expertise. We would like to introduce our speaker, Dr. John J. Schaefer! Read all about Dr. Schaefer below. 

Join us for the eleventh installment of our Year of the Smartstate series where Dr. Schaefer will talk Clinical Effectiveness, Patient Safety, and the Process of Commercializing Technologies as part of National Inventors Month.

Come grab a drink in one of our smart-looking Science Cafe pint glasses, and mix and mingle with fellow science-oriented Columbians. Get excited, get your questions, and join us!

To celebrate his success at leveraging IT to save lives, our friends at IT-oLogy are joining us again to buy everyone their first drink! If you don't know IT-oLogy, they're a national non-profit collaboration of businesses, academic institutions and organizations dedicated to growing the IT talent pipeline, fostering economic development and advancing the IT profession. In other words, they work to promote, teach, and grow IT.

When and Where
Dr. John J. Schaefer
Smartstate Endowed Chair for Patient Simulation and Research
Medical University of South Carolina

Tuesday, August 13th

711 Saluda Ave. Columbia, SC 29205

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Dr. John J. Schaefer, Lewis Blackman SmartState Endowed Chair for Patient Simulation and Research, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

Dr. John Schaefer is an international expert in healthcare simulation who is transforming the way healthcare clinicians are taught, and in the process, helping to reduce patient injury and improve medical outcomes.

Dr. Schaefer came to South Carolina from the University of Pittsburgh where he helped establish the first simulation training. He served as director of the center from 1997 to 2006 and directed the multi-partnered expansion of the center. As a SmartState Endowed Chair, he has led the effort to establish a statewide network of simulation centers, collaborating with diverse partners to open or improve centers at the Clemson University College of Nursing, Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, Greenville Technical College, MUSC, Palmetto Health, the University of South Carolina College of Nursing, and Trident Technical College. 

These SmartState Program-funded simulation centers now provide training for medical, nursing and allied health students, as well as advanced continuing education to hospital employees and physicians. They allow healthcare providers to practice their skills in a

controlled, risk-free environment, rather than in an actual patient setting. This innovative training method results in better healthcare outcomes and increased patient safety.

Additionally, Dr. Schaefer is developing training, equipment, and software programs that are making South Carolina a leader in the medical simulation field.  He co-founded a start-up company called SimTunes in 2008 to create and commercialize simulation educational technology. Read more of Dr. Schaefer's bio here 

Learn more about Dr. Schaefer's background and register for the event at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Inspiration for Urban Policy can be Found Everywhere

While planning and envisioning a future urban area, it is easy to get stuck in a rut and avoid new ideas. However, there is an abundance of inspiration from other cities in developing a successful city of the future. 

Policy researchers at NYU recently compiled a list of highlighted innovations from a top list of cities all over the place, to bring together a concentrated list of incredible policies currently being implemented. Interestingly, as the innovations were analyzed, not every city has innovations under specific, similar
categories. The categories under which innovations fall differ from city to city, showing inspiration can be taken from anywhere and tailored to a specific city according to its makeup. 

Ultimately, the researchers compiled a list of 15 highlights believed to be the most interesting, fresh, and innovative policies for a future urban area. A few of these highlights include:
  • 311 systems like in Boston and Chicago, which provide real-time updates on the status of requests
  • San Francisco's universal college savings plan for all kindergarten students, its Zero Waste initiative, and tax free commuter benefits program
  • Chicago's seed fund for public agency innovation and its strategy of organizing private sector fiscal experts to generate mass budget savings
  • Denver's Peak Academy which sends public sector staff to "innovation school"
  • London's Spacehive crowdsourcing initiative to fund community projects
  • Philadelphia Digital Badging initiatives that enables students to gain credit for skills developed outside of school
  • Affordable age in-place housing programs in  Seattle, Vancouver and Santa Cruz
  • Michigan's Prize-Linked Savings program that creates cash incentives for underbanked individuals to save more
Columbia can take inspiration from these innovations in urban policy and begin our own. What time is better than now? Initiatives like CRCI (Columbia Regional Competitiveness Initiative) must take these innovations to heart when developing policies and programs that are tailored to the unique needs of Columbia and the Midlands region. This way, we can keep an innovative edge while improving the attractiveness and competitiveness of the region.

To read more on the study mentioned above, read this

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Local Voterheads Receive National Attention

2 years ago, Karl McCollester realized a gap in the process of local government decision making and the flow of the information to citizens. 

Instead of sitting back and complaining, he decided to act. McCollester founded Voterheads, allowing citizens to become well-educated on local issues in a much more convenient way. Because of the innovative thinking behind it, Voterheads has gained national attention and was recently featured in a Government Technology article featuring "five platforms that are helping redefine civic engagement."

In 2011, Karl McCollester saw a common issue when it came to local civic issues. Local governments were making decisions that affected the community, with barely any of the local community present. Decisions were being made while the public was unaware, causing discontent. Voterheads was founded as a technological solution to bridge the information gap and ease the process of information flow between local government and its citizens.

Voterheads participated in our Ignite! ideas contest and gained plenty of local recognition as a result. Now Karl McCollester and Mike Switzer are receiving national attention because of the innovation and usefulness of their solution.

This is another phenomenal example of entrepreneurship taking place in Columbia that gives the community a competitive advantage and creates a knowledge economy. Voterheads saw a common issue in the community and decided to act on an innovative and unique solution. They are now receiving the attention they deserve!

Read the Government Technology article here. Also, Votherheads recently released the beta version of their site! Check it out and keep up to date on local civic issues on their platform here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

SOCO: "A Place for you to work, collaborate, and excel"

Coming soon to Columbia: an exciting, vibrant, collaborative workspace known as SOCO.

What's SOCO all about?
A group of long-term Columbians involved in the business arena have come together to create a collaborative space for "coworking." The whole concept revolves around the idea that when people from different areas work together, the combined expertise and ideas bring everyone to a better place. Individuals with different ideas, initiatives, and thoughts will all be working in the same place, creating a melting pot of kickstarting ideas and viewpoints to benefit all. And to top it all off, SOCO will be located in an awesome space in the heart of the Vista, to create an even more energetic environment.

How does it work?
They are accepting applications now! If interested, you can join in one of three ways. "You can choose to join on a daily basis, or if you plan on being here frequently but don’t need anything permanent, you can join for a reasonable monthly rate."

When will this happen?
SOCO is expected to open at the start of August. This will truly provide an innovative, flexible workspace for creative and business-minded Columbians to improve themselves and the knowledge economy of Columbia!

Find out more about SOCO on their website.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Dr. Kyle Brinkman is Added to July Science Cafe!

Join us at Science Cafe
EngenuitySC's popular networking event and lecture series continues this July, expanding our expertise to another field of scientific research.  Last week, we filled you in on the awesome happenings with Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider, and now we would like to introduce July's co-speaker, Dr. Kyle Brinkman! Read all about Dr. Brinkman below. 

Join us for the tenth installment of our Year of the Smartstate series where Dr. Reifsnider and Dr. Brinkman will talk Solid Oxide Fuel Cells and how their center has led the global fuel cell innovation industry from the heart of the Palmetto State. 

Come grab a drink in one of our smart-looking Science Cafe pint glasses, and mix and mingle with fellow science-oriented Columbians. Get excited, get your questions, and join us!

When and Where
Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider
Smartstate Endowed Chair in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
University of South Carolina
Dr. Kyle Brinkman
Principal Engineer & Program Manager for SRNL’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

Tuesday, July 9th

711 Saluda Ave. Columbia, SC 29205

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Dr. Kyle Brinkman, Principal Engineer & Program Manager for SRNL’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) 

Dr. Kyle Brinkman is currently a principal engineer and serves as Program Manager for SRNL’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) activities in the Science and Technology Directorate of the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL).   He is also an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina (USC) in the department of Mechanical Engineering’s Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Center of Excellence directed by Prof. Ken Reifsnider (NAE). He has 14 years of experience in the field of advanced materials for energy applications in an international setting participating in US Department of Energy, European Union and Japanese government sponsored research projects. 

Prior to working at SRNL, Dr. Brinkman was a fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science working in a Japanese “National Laboratory”, the National Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan as part of the Research Center for Hydrogen Industrial Use and Storage “Hydrogenius”. Dr. Brinkman received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL).  He obtained an M.S. in Ceramic and Materials Engineering and a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Clemson University.  

Dr. Brinkman has been the P.I. on over $4.5 Million in sponsored research, has published over 60 publications, delivered over 60 presentations in the field of advanced materials and was the recipient of the Charmey Prize (2007) given to the best doctoral thesis performed at a Swiss University, the TMS Young Leader Award 2010, the “Young Scientist Award for New Material Concepts for Next Generation Membranes” from the Nanotechnology Division of the 2010 Pacifichem Meeting, and the 2011 SRNL Early Career Award. His recent work and focus at SRNL has been in the areas of hydrogen storage and purification, electronic ceramic materials for gas separation in commercial (H2, and CO2) and nuclear domains (hydrogen isotopes), structure/property relations in solid oxide fuel cell systems, mixed ionic and electronic conductive ceramics for energy conversion, and crystalline waste form development as a transformational waste management solution for a closed nuclear fuel. Read more of Dr. Brinkman's bio here 

Learn more about Dr. Brinkman's background and register for the event at

Monday, July 1, 2013

Richard Florida: New Geography of Venture Capital

In our first Columbia Regional Competitiveness Workshop Series, Dirk Brown mentioned access to venture capital was both a major opportunity and obstacle to the Midlands' entrepreneurial growth. In this week's post, EngenuitySC takes a look at some interesting findings from Richard Florida and Columbia's unique position in the venture capital world.

Economist Richard Florida has conducted a study on the movement and trend of venture capital investment towards urban centers. 

Venture capital has been, and remains, a catalyst and launching pad for innovation. High-tech startups and ventures are undoubtedly a vital aspect that jumpstarts the economy. Take, for example, Facebook, Intel, and Google. All of these have revolutionized their respective industries and contributed greatly to the daily life for society. 

In the past, these startups have traditionally called suburban industrial parks like Silicon Valley, Research Triangle Park, and the Boston suburbs home. However, in recent years, these startups are moving more and more towards urban centers, where there is a much larger concentration of business, life, and capital. 

In the map below, you see the concentrations of venture capital deals that have taken place in 2012. A large amount of these deals have occurred in urban centers and metro areas rather than outside in industrial parks, as they have in the past. Therefore cities must collaborate to foster growth and success. Looking at the map, you can see that Columbia does show up as a spot of interest related to number of venture deals taking place. 

Number of Venture Capital Deals Taking Place

However, the following map now shows the dollar amount of the capital ventures taking place. As you can see, Columbia does not show up on this map. Why is this? What can be done in the business environment in Columbia to create financially larger venture capital deals? 

These are the kinds of issues we aim to address and conquer with the Columbia Regional Competitiveness Initiative. Are you surprised Columbia doesn't even register for dollar value of venture capital investment? How do you or your organization help to solve this problem? Let us know in the comments, @EngenuitySC #CRCIWorkshop, on #CompetitivenessWorkshop, or drop us an email at!

Dollar value of venture capital deals taking place

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ready for the next season of Science Cafe? Let us know what you think!

It has been quite a season for Science Cafe since we kicked off of the Year of the SmartState in September. We're planning our upcoming season of programming, and before we get too far, we want to hear what you think

We're excited to keep providing a lineup of incredible speakers. Whether it was Dr. Charlie Bennett and his research uncovering the health risks of every day pharmaceutical and medical products, Dr. Scott Mason sharing the "science of Santa, or Dr. Simon Hudson sharing the soft science of love, we hope you enjoyed a year of programming that featured, literally, the world's foremost experts in their fields. 

But most importantly, we hoped we've helped you find some like-minded folks in the community who are passionate about the Midlands power as a global leader in innovation. 

Ultimately, every Science Cafe is about rallying the community around a passion for science and technology and turning that passion into a vision. We firmly believe that residents in the Midlands believe their home region is one of the best places in the world to innovate the world's top technologies, build sustainable businesses, and recruit and employ the top talent to expand the success of those innovations. 

At Science Cafe, we just want to help connect you to the real life stories that back that belief up.

If you missed a few Science Cafes this past year, here's a little about the community we've been building! It's incredibly diverse! Take a look at who has been attending, tell us what you thought about the past year, then register for the next Science Cafe and meet some fellow science enthusiasts!
  • We covered an array of topics from the science behind Santa's supply chain, to marine genomics revealing the dangers of your  adverse drug effects, almost guaranteeing a topic of interest for everyone
  • We had a dedicated crowd of 90 repeat attendees; they must have found something they liked!
  • We've had a great audience, averaging about 50 attendees per month! Our largest event had over 100 attendees!
  • We've had attendees from all ages, ranging from 15 to 89 years old! When we did the math, our average age for registered attendees was about 48 years old, though we think most of our walk-ins were a bit younger.
  • We've great balance in people with the audiences split virtually in half between male and female
  • Science Cafe has brought together a diverse list of thought leaders from across the state, including the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the Medical University of South Carolina through an amazing partnership with our friends at the SmartState program
*This data applies only to those attendees that registered in advance

Science Cafe could not have had the success it has seen without the phenomenal community that continues to engage in powerful, thought-provoking discussions. More importantly, we can't do it without your feedback.

Please share your opinions with this quick survey and we look forward to seeing everyone at the next Science Cafe on July 9!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fuel Cell Environment in South Carolina with Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider

Join us at Science Cafe
EngenuitySC's popular networking event and lecture series continues this July, expanding our expertise to another field of scientific research.  We will be raising our glasses with Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider, Smartstate Endowed Chair in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, at the University of South Carolina. 

Join us for the tenth installment of our Year of the Smartstate series where Dr. Reifsnider will discuss Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. 

Come grab a drink in one of our smart-looking Science Cafe pint glasses, and mix and mingle with fellow science-oriented Columbians. Get excited, get your questions - And join us!

When and Where
Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider
Smartstate Endowed Chair in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
University of South Carolina

Tuesday, July 9th

711 Saluda Ave. Columbia, SC 29205

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Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider, Smartstate
Endowed Chair in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells 

Dr. Reifsnider is the SmartState Endowed Chair in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells at the University of South Carolina. A member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Reifsnider’s research focus is in fuel cell science and mechanical engineering, with a focus on how materials behave—their durability, damage tolerance, and the way they perform over time. Fuel cells are continually replenished with fuel and thus provide a continuous supply of electric power without running down like a battery. Solid oxide fuel cells convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy.

His research holds tremendous relevance and applicability as the world searches for safe, clean energy sources. Fuel cells hold tremendous promise for commercial and personal power. Applications include large-scale power distribution for municipalities, rural areas and industries, as well as heat and power for homes. They could also provide mobile power for computers, cell phones and other electronics. 
The work of Dr. Reifsnider and USC has attracted a cadre of influential partners, including General Motors, Boeing, BASF, John Deere, LG Electronics, and the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Dr. Reifsnider is highly regarded. In 2009, the White House named him to the Air Force Science Advisory Board. He is the only University of South Carolina researcher who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is a former Deputy Director of a National Science Foundation Center. Prior to joining the USC faculty, he was the director of the Connecticut Global Fuel Cell Center at the University of Connecticut. To learn more about Dr. Reifsnider, visit    

Learn more about Dr. Kenneth Reifsnider's background and register for the event at

Thursday, June 6, 2013

EngenuitySC Kicks Off Competitiveness Workshop

The Columbia Regional Competitiveness Workshop series kicked off by mapping a strategy to improve the competitiveness of the Columbia region through an emphasis on entrepreneurship. We had folks like Lexington Mayor Randy Halfacre, BB&T President Mike Brenan, COR Executive Director Katherine Swartz, and more. If you couldn't make it, here's a recap of what you saw: 

George Hutton, Executive Director for EngenuitySC, kicked off the series by highlighting the challenges Columbia faces, the opportunities for economic growth through a focus on competitiveness, and the Columbia Regional Competitiveness Workshop series' goal to bring together key stakeholders to capture opportunities. Hutton laid the groundwork for the goal of the series, its impact on Columbia, and how we stack up quantitatively and qualitatively against peer regions like Austin, Texas, Raleigh, N.C., and Charleston, S.C.

We hosted a fantastic panel of keynote speakers moderated by Bill Kirkland from the new USC Office of Economic Engagement. Speakers and panelists included Dirk Brown from the Faber Center for Entrepreneurship at the Moore School of Business, Greg Clark of SCRA, Greg Hilton from CETi, and Tom Ledbetter from Midlands Technical College. Here are some of the main highlights from their talks:

Dirk Brown:
  • We can be more productive when we engage in conversation like this
  • We need to strengthen our ecosystem for new ventures and differentiate our offerings
  • How do we keep successful startups like RidePost and Watsi in the Midlands?
    • We need money, talent, and suppliers/support/anchor customers
    • They need resources here to grow here
Greg Clark:
  • Proper economic development can lead to a return on investment
  • There is a lot of opportunity in commercializing intellectual property
    • Licensing and formation opportunities
  • Challenges
    • Lack of angel investors and venture capital
    • Lack of experienced c-level talent to manage and grow startups through investment periods
  • Opportunity
    • Influx of mentors and retired executives to the area
Greg Hilton/Tom Ledbetter:
  • We have interest in really getting something done, not just talking about it
  • We are creating our own environment rather than being just like every other city. Embrace our culture and uniqueness!
  • Goals/opportunities
    • Create an environment to grow
    • Develop a killer startup environment
    • Change the culture to take more risks
    • Build better entrepreneurs & talent
    • Be able to say "no" to certain startups and nurture the "winners" - It's okay to be selective
Here's some area where you can help - Have a solution? Want to get involved? Drop us a note a
  • We need more risk capital flowing through Columbia
  • Development and recruitment of local talent is key to our growth and success
  • We need the community to come together and want startups to grow and thrive - We have to celebrate our successes!
  • Our community should be committed to being the welcoming party for a company visit - We need to own creating a group dedicated to dropping everything to welcome a new company
  • We have strategies to accelerate the startup process
  • Greg Hilton needs mentors for his incubators companies - people willing to spend a few hours for open office hours
  • Investors need to be connected with talent they may not know of
  • A unified group of business people is vital
  • We need to talk up the future of Columbia and create a buzz

Thank you to all who attended and keep an eye out for our next event in September! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Improving Drug Safety with Dr. Charles Bennett

Event Details

Improving Drug Safety

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Dr. Charles Bennett
Smartstate Endowed Chair in Medication Safety & Efficacy
University of South Carolina

Tuesday, June 11th



711 Saluda Ave. Columbia, SC 29205

SmartState Video - Regan Voit

Improving Drug Safety with Dr. Charles Bennett
Join us at Science Cafe
EngenuitySC's popular networking event and lecture series continues this June as we pay tribute to National Safety Month and Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Week.  We will be raising our glasses with Dr. Charles Bennett, Smartstate Endowed Chair in Medication Safety & Efficacy and founder of RADAR, which investigates and disseminates information about adverse drug and device reactions.
Join us for the ninth installment of our Year of the Smartstate series where Dr. Bennett will discuss his current work toward preventing adverse drug events and improving medication safety.  

Come grab a drink in one of our smart-looking Science Cafe pint glasses, and mix and mingle with fellow science-oriented Columbians. 
Get excited, get your questions - And join us!

Dr. Charles Bennett, Smartstate
Endowed Chair in Medication Safety and Efficacy 

Dr. Bennett is the SmartState Endowed Chair in Medication Safety and Efficacy at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy. A hematologist and oncologist, Dr. Bennett’s research focuses on ways to make drug information more consumer-friendly and creating new training tools for healthcare providers.

Dr. Bennett has first-hand experience with commercializing technology and starting new companies. In 1998, he founded internationally known RADAR (Research on Adverse Drug events And Reports), which investigates and disseminates information about adverse drug and device reactions. During the last decade, the company’s work has identified potentially fatal and previously unreported side effects associated with more than 40 drugs. 
Dr. Bennett has also had a well-supported career, receiving more than $4.2 million in federal research grants. To learn more about Dr. Bennett, visit   

Learn more about Dr. Charles Bennett's background and register for the event at