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INNOVATION

Innovation is the nucleus of the Upstate. Our industries are patent-generating powerhouses and leading technology advancements in manufacturing, backed by one of America’s highest concentrations of engineering talent. Deemed “The New Startup South” by Bloomberg, our region is small in size though strong in spirit with a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Creators behind many of Upstate’s products – from Ryobi power tools to digital connected health platforms – are flourishing with talent drawn to the region’s quality of life and collegial business community that makes things happen. Together, industries, technology scale-ups, and academic researchers are pioneering advancements across fields from genetic discovery to autonomous vehicle technology.

Innovation Clusters

Innovation in Upstate South Carolina is propelled by collaborative research campuses driven by industry needs. From innovation in packaging design at Clemson University’s Sonoco Institute to advancements of robotics in manufacturing at The Greenville Technical College Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI). Breakthrough applied research is conducted in world-class labs at Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), while International Transportation Innovation Center (ITiC) is serving as a proving ground for mobility innovation.

Business and Technology Accelerators

In addition to its academic research and industry partnerships, the Upstate region is also home to a growing number of business incubators, co-working spaces and technology training resources:

  • The NEXT Innovation Center, a business incubator for entrepreneurs, startups and small technology businesses.
  • Next Manufacturing offers flexible short-term leases and an unprecedented support system to both start-ups and well established manufacturing firms.
  • Spartanburg Community College’s Spark Center.
  • University of South Carolina Upstate’s The Greenhouse Business Incubator.
  • A growing number of collaborative, flex-term and low-cost collaborative working spaces such as Endeavor and Textile Hall, among many others, are offered in the Upstate region.

With all of these regional assets combined, it’s no surprise that Greenville was ranked 5th in the nation in net business creation, according to Inc’s 50 Best US Cities for Starting a Business.

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Support for Innovation

The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) fuels South Carolina’s innovation economy through multiple programs.

SC Facilities offers high-quality laboratory and administrative workspaces for technology-based startups and academic institutions.

SC Industry Solutions facilitates and funds partnerships between and among startups, industry, and academia.

SC Launch mentors and funds technology-based startups that may also receive investments from SCRA’s investment affiliate, SC Launch, Inc.

SC Academic Innovations provides funding and support to advance multi-institutional, translational research and accelerate the growth of university-based startups.

From working with entrepreneurs, to engaging industry, the SCRA is passionate about fueling innovation that creates opportunities.

  • Awarded $2.4M in grants in FY20; Grants help advance research capabilities, commercialize technology, expand product offerings, fund relocation costs, and more
  • Supported 5.3K South Carolina-based jobs in FY20
  • $74.2K average salary of companies in the SC Launch Program, 59% higher than the average state salary
  • $9.9M funding to support academic research, startups, and infrastructure in 2018-2020
  • 47 academically affiliated companies currently supported by SCRA
  • $29.9M follow-on funding in 2018-2020 for grant awardees

Learn more about the SCRA and how they fuel South Carolina’s Innovation Economy.