Encompassing the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, environmental and biomedical devices, the life sciences industry is diverse and expansive.  

Thanks to established and emerging life sciences and biotech companies alongside research institutions and educational establishments across the US, the competition to be the leading states for life sciences becomes ever more competitive. 

Emerging South Carolina life sciences hubs

With continued growth across the sector in the US, the competition for life sciences business is strong, with more biotech hubs emerging.   

Thanks to continued investment and ongoing collaboration between educational institutions, research facilities and biotech companies, South Carolina is emerging as a genuine hub for the high-tech industry.  

According to a report published by SCBIO, the trade association that represents the life sciences industry in South Carolina, in excess of 700 life sciences companies and businesses are currently investing and operating in the state.  

With contributions from research facilities and institutions, there continues to be a concerted effort to drive economic development strategies, designed specifically to attract life sciences companies to start up, expand or relocate in South Carolina. 

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Expanding the existing ecosystem has enabled the South Carolina life sciences sector to enjoy growth and attract more inward investment.

Economic impact of South Carolina life sciences companies

As the largest city in the state, Charleston is the economic driver in South Carolina. In 2021, the economic impact of the life sciences sector was reported as being about $12bn per year.  

Companies such as GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Astra Zeneca have facilities in the state. Their presence showcases the state’s suitability as a location for biotech and life science companies, as well as driving increased economic growth in the sector. 

Over the past two years about 40,000 jobs have been created by these and other companies, making the sector a well-paid and highly established part of the local economy.  

Charleston the focus of SC life sciences  

After emerging as a high-tech hub over the past few years, Charleston has become colloquially referred to as Silicon Harbor, with innovation and business driven by the Charleston Digital Corridor Initiative.  

Part of the industry growth in Charleston is directly related to the collaborations between the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and local life sciences and biotech companies.  

Categorised by the state as a tier one institution within the life sciences field, MUSC receives about $284m in yearly research funding, helping research and development for both start-ups and established biotech companies. 

As of 2022, Charleston is home to about 35 pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, and an additional 50 research and development facilities for life science work.  

With support from both local government and the business community, Charleston, and South Carolina more widely, is emerging as an epicentre of life sciences and tech innovation.  

In addition, the city has become one of the best in the US for life sciences due to both the state’s commitment to research and development as well as the strong and growing partnerships and collaborations that exist between companies and universities invested in the sector.  

Due to the presence of a highly skilled workforce, constantly fed into by the graduate market, life sciences companies have a wealth of available talent when setting up a new business or expanding their existing enterprise.  

Combined with the continued growth of the economy after the pandemic-driven decline, Charleston is becoming one of the top US cities for life sciences and a genuine hub for bioscience and medical research. 

SC life sciences companies offered supportive tax incentives 

When it comes to starting a biotech or life sciences company, financial planning and corporate costs are key. South Carolina is known as a pro-business state, offering corporate and personal tax incentives for new business.

These incentives are structured and designed to attract both large companies looking for a cost-effective business climate from a tax and regulatory perspective, as well as start-up ventures in the life sciences field.  

As well as the tax initiatives discussed above, there is another important growth driver in the South Carolina life sciences sector. The existing ecosystem within the biotech and life sciences industry is supported and enhanced by local research and academic facilities.  

These include the three major research universities in the region, University of South Carolina, MUSC and Clemson University.  

With leading research facilities, established life sciences academic departments and a reliable stream of life science graduates, these institutions offer potential biotech companies an existing ecosystem that is attractive for starting a business in the city.  

Encouraging new business in the life sciences in Charleston and across the state is also supported by the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Research Authority.  

As well as assisting the SCBIO, a non-profit industry association and economic development organisation tasked with building the business of life sciences in South Carolina, these agencies have encouraged and nurtured economic development alliances across the sector.  

SC life sciences sector boosted by leading company investment 

Boosting the reputation of South Carolina as a good place to start a biotech or life sciences company is the major regional investment made by Nephron Pharmaceuticals.  

A global leader in the manufacture of generic respiratory medication, the company has expanded its operations in the state over the past few years.  

Owner Lou Kennedy is one of the most prominent leaders in the South Carolina-based life sciences and biotech sphere, highlighting further the emergence of the state as a sector hub. Due to this continued investment, the SCBIO has been able to grow its membership and raise its revenues by almost 400%. 

As well as the clear and present economic development that this has created, it has also nurtured greater collaboration between life sciences working on new innovations and advanced biotech research. 

Information, Data and Statistics from Statista, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, US Census Bureau.