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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Founders First

Apr 12, 2024 09:25AM ● By Donna Walker

SCRA Presents Company, Founder, and Researcher of the Year Awards at Annual Summit

(Photo courtesy of SCRA. Left to right: Joe Carson, Professor of Astrophysics at the College of Charleston, with the Applied Researcher of the Year award. Benjamin Moore, founder of Bubble Paper, with the Company of the Year award. Scott Pancoast, founder of Zylö Therapeutics, with the Founder of the Year award.)


Hundreds gathered at the South Carolina Research Authority’s annual summit on April 10, 2024, in Columbia, South Carolina, where Williamston-based Bubble Paper was awarded Company of the Year, Scott Pancoast of Zylö Therapeutics was awarded Founder of the Year, and Joe Carson of the College of Charleston was awarded Applied Researcher of the Year.


Bubble Paper is a leader in the environmental packaging industry that provides packaging materials that offer the same level of protection and temperature control as current plastic alternatives at a comparable cost.


Many areas of the country, including several counties in South Carolina, have banned plastic foam insulation to keep food cold and protect products in shipping. Officials say Bubble Paper is uniquely positioned to leverage this movement.  


Scott Pancoast is the founder and CEO of Zylö Therapeutics. Zylö Therapeutics is a leader in the topical solutions industry, treating several diseases. Emerging from semi-retirement, Pancoast discovered the effectiveness of the technology and founded Zylö.


Its drug delivery system uses patented xerogel-derived particles, called Z-pods, to topically deliver Nitric Oxide and other notoriously hard-to-deliver therapeutic agents.


Officials say the technology enables a product concept called the Patchless Patch, an innovative, competitive response to a lidocaine patch.


Joe Carson is the brains behind one of TIME magazine’s top 10 Science Discoveries of 2009. He is a professor of Astrophysics at the College of Charleston and the founder of Pensievision, a medical device startup and SCRA Member Company.


Officials say Carson has found a way to incorporate NASA satellite technology into a low-cost, handheld 3D imaging device to address the third most common cancer worldwide and the leading cause of cancer death in women in developing economies —cervical cancer.


As a testament to the critical need that Carson and Pensievision are fulfilling, their federal Small Business Innovation Research proposal received a rare perfect score from the NIH — something unheard of, which is termed the unicorn score.


Themed Founders First, the summit celebrated the hard work of founders growing our state’s innovation economy.


It was a time for SCRA-supported and -funded entrepreneurs, startups, project leaders, and members of the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to come together, network, and learn more about how to grow their businesses successfully.


The success of these startups results in economic growth and new jobs for the state that pay 70 percent higher than the state’s average.


The keynote speaker was Mastin Robeson, Major General, United States Marine Corps (Ret), president of UASidekick, an SC Launch Inc. Portfolio Company, and founder and chairman of the board for Upstate Warrior Solution.


Chartered in 1983 by the State of South Carolina as a public, nonprofit corporation, South Carolina Research Authority fuels the state’s innovation economy through the impact of its comprehensive services to technology-based startups, academia, and industry.


SCRA provides funding and support to accelerate the growth of academic startups; high-quality lab and administrative workspaces; facilitation and funding for partnerships between and among industry, startups, and academic institutions; assistance and funding for the relocation of technology-based companies to South Carolina; and coaching and funding for startups that may also receive investments from its affiliate, SC Launch Inc.

Trueline Announces Official Construction Partner, Clayton Construction Company

Trueline, a venue coming soon for music, immersive art, and inspiring performances, announced its partnership with Clayton Construction Company, Inc. 


Marking a significant milestone in the evolution of the Upstate’s entertainment scene, the project will break ground April 25. 


Officials said construction of Trueline will engage a dedicated team of approximately 75 contractors and subcontractors, symbolizing a collaborative effort to bring this vision to life in the West End district of Greenville, South Carolina.


The estimated completion date is the first quarter of 2025.


The venue with multiple performance spaces, rooftop terraces, and a multi-level bar open daily for coffee, small plates, and late-night gatherings will hold a capacity of 1,700 on two levels and include 175 fixed balcony seats overlooking the main concert hall.


The versatile space with top-tier stage, sound, lighting, and video options for performers is designed to host concerts, comedy shows, specialty events, and corporate events, and to be a must-play destination for national touring artists and emerging local artists.


Officials said the venue will also set new standards in environmental consciousness, incorporating sustainable practices such as prioritizing renewable energy sources and eliminating single-use items.


Trueline CEO Michael Grozier brings 30 years of experience, having opened 25 venues and managed over 100 music and entertainment establishments, including the iconic House of Blues.


For more information, go to

South Carolina Predicted to Have Third-Best Business Performance

New research has discovered the states where business owners are most confident about the future, with South Carolina ranking third.


Web hosting provider, Hostinger, analyzed survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the states where business owners are most confident about their current performance, as well as their predicted performance in six months’ time.  


In first place is South Dakota, where 43.5 percent of business owners predict that their business performance will be above average or excellent in six months’ time.


The state has a business-friendly climate, being one of only nine U.S. states that doesn’t charge a state or corporate income tax, allowing businesses to reinvest their earnings to help them grow.  


New Mexico is second on the list, with 43.2 percent of business owners anticipating above average or excellent performance in the next half year, with only 11 percent feeling negative.


Although commonly overlooked by entrepreneurs, officials say New Mexico is a great place for businesses to thrive, with multiple financial assistance programs including the Job Training Incentive Program and the Local Economic Development Act.  


Third is South Carolina, another state, officials say, where enterprises can prosper with a low cost of doing business, low tax rates, and low industrial power rates.


The research showed 37.9 percent of business owners feel that their company’s performance will be above average or excellent in the next six months, while 37.8 percent have a positive outlook on their current performance. 


Next on the list is Montana. The state has pro-business tax incentives and a low cost of living, which create a positive economic environment, where 37 percent of business owners feel that their organizations will perform well in the next six months.


If a new company is registered in Montana as an S corporation, they are able to pass through taxation, which allows new companies to thrive. 


Alaska is fifth, with 36.6 percent of business owners who feel confident that their company will be performing above average or excellent in six months’ time.


Similar to South Dakota, Alaska has no state income or sales tax, as well as having improved labor and hiring laws in comparison to other states.  


The state where business owners feel the least confident about the future is Vermont, with just 14.4 percent predicting above average or excellent business performance in the next six months.  


The research also revealed which sectors in which business owners feel the most confident about the future. 


At the top of the list is utilities, with 45.4 percent of business owners in this sector who predict that their business will be performing above average or excellent in six months.


This sector includes all water, gas, electric, and power companies, which perform well regardless of the economic climate, making it a very profitable business.  


Second is educational services, which includes schools, colleges, and training centers. It is a rapidly expanding sector in which companies can be very successful; 41.3 percent of business owners have estimated above average or excellent performance in six months’ time, this being a 2.4 percent increase from the 38.9 percent who feel confident in their current performance. 


In third place is health care and social assistance, with 40.4 percent predicting that their company’s performance will be above average or excellent in six months’ time and 41.2 percent who feel positive about how they are currently performing.


The sector is mainly comprised of hospitals, residential care services, and social assistance.  


Fourth is professional, scientific, and technical services. This sector includes a wide range of businesses, including legal representation, engineering, and computer services.


The research showed 40.1 percent of business owners feel confident in both the current and future performance of their company. 


Finance and insurance is fifth, with 39.1 percent of business owners who feel that their business’ performance will be above average or excellent in six months and 38 percent confident in their current performance.


This sector includes all businesses that deal with money, credit, and insurance.  

SCbio Foundation Awards $7,500 In Grants To Support Life Sciences Internships

The SCbio Foundation awarded $7,500 in grants to three South Carolina college students to support their summer internships at life sciences companies within the Palmetto State.


Sarah Deloach, a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina, will intern at Carolina Biologics, a biotechnology start-up company focused on drug discovery and development for cardiovascular and ocular diseases.


Haley Pepper, an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina, received an internship at Poly-Med, a medical device company that develops bioresorbable materials and products that help to improve patient outcomes and reduce the need for follow-up surgeries.


Natalie Shay, an undergraduate student at Clemson University, accepted an internship at Greenwood Genetic Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs, and research initiatives.


“We are thrilled to support these deserving students as they embark on their summer life science internships with SCbio member companies,” said Translational Science Solutions Founder and SCbio Foundation Chair Kathryn Becker.


Becker added, “By providing these grants, we hope not only to support the educational and career goals of these individuals, but also to strengthen the pipeline of talent and industry ecosystem within South Carolina.”


Foundation grants are awarded annually to qualifying South Carolina college students who have received an internship at a life sciences company within the Palmetto State.


Funds are allocated for housing and transportation expenses during the internship period.

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