Just Getting Started
In 2002, the SC Legislature enacted the South Carolina Research Centers of Economic Excellence Act (CoEE) which created 76 endowed research chairs in 51 centers at SC's three research universities. The Darla Moore School of Business determined in 2021 that the Legislature's $200 million investment in CoEE has generated $3.9 in economic impact and $1.2 million in labor income annually in the State. You're receiving this newsletter as one of the first people on the journey to reauthorize CoEE 2.0 to drive South Carolina's economy to even greater heights by encouraging innovation and investing in our future workforce.
CoEE 1.0 funded endowed research chairs. As proposed, CoEE 2.0 builds on our existing research capability using the National Science Foundation's framework for creating Regional Innovation Engines (or ecosystems). CoEE 2.0 funds Research Collaboration Agreements based on Market Pull Innovation which means industry partners identify and define real-world problems and academic researchers at one or more SC colleges or universities propose research with industry partners to solve those problems. The Agreements must include a plan for Commercializing the innovations, for Workforce Development to support growing the innovation ecosystem, and for Diversity and Inclusion. The objective is driving economic impact that creates and retains high-wage jobs for the people of South Carolina.
How CoEE 2.0 Works
This is a hypothetical illustration. The opportunity to apply for CoEE 2.0 funding is promoted at the annual SC Automotive Summit produced by the SC Manufacturers Alliance. A representative from Volvo meets a researcher from CU-ICAR, which begins a collaboration to develop an autonomous system to move cargo from the Port of Charleston to Volvo’s manufacturing facility and back. Volvo agrees to commit $5 million to the project if $5 million of CoEE 2.0 funding is approved. The proposal includes partnering with: Argo AI, a leading autonomous mobility technology company with a test track at SCTAC in Greenville, the College of Charleston computer science department on artificial intelligence, the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center at SC State, and PCMatic, an entrepreneurial cybersecurity company in Myrtle Beach. The proposal includes funding for Trident Technical College to help train the workforce to operate the system and for a summer program to provide real-world experience to K-12 STEM teachers and students like those at Richland District 2 Sandlapper Elementary’s computer science immersion program. The system is marketed by an entrepreneurial company backed by SC Launch and Venture South to deploy it with other Port of Charleston customers and at other ports around the world.
Three Forums to
Start the Journey
The early feedback about CoEE 2.0 is very positive. This fall, three CoEE 2.0 Forums will be held to build a broad CoEE 2.0 coalition. Details will be announced later. Representative Sylleste Davis has agreed to chair the CoEE 2.0 Forums Committee. The Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the SC Council on Competitiveness, and the SC Hospital Association have agreed to be the first Networking Partners to promote the Forums. We are in discussions with other Industry and Economic Development organizations in the state to help promote the Forums too. CoEE 2.0 Forums can energize an unprecedented coalition of academic researchers, industry innovators, entrepreneurs, economic developers, and entrepreneurial support organizations to create and retain high-wage jobs for people in South Carolina.