CarolinaTechNews Q&A supports our mission to build a stronger innovation community in North Carolina, South Carolina, and the surrounding region and contribute to economic growth. Today we speak with Micki MacNaughton, VP of communications and legislative affairs at SCRA, a South Carolina-based applied research corporation. 

Q: When was your organization founded and why? 
A: We were founded by the South Carolina State Legislature in 1983 to foster high-tech economic development in the state. Since inception, we have been self-sustaining.

Q: Where is your HQ and how many employees do you have? 
A: Our corporate headquarters is in Columbia, but our largest office is in Summerville. We currently have 191 employees.

We have helped 17 companies relocate to SC, and our companies have received an extraordinary amount of follow-on investment funding - $381,900,000.

Q: What are your organization’s core services, mission and goals? 
A: Our core mission is to advance the high-tech “Knowledge Economy” in SC.  We do this by making investments, matching Phase 1 SBIR grants and offering mentorship and support services to tech-based SC start-ups – through our SC Launch program. We also assist with IP commercialization and provide state-of-the-art space at our Innovation Centers and Research Parks. These efforts are complemented by our Applied R&D business sector - through R&D portfolio and consortia management, the business sector generates revenues that keep us self-sustaining and are also re-invested into SC-based companies.

Q: Who are some recognizable members of your leadership team? 
A: CEO Bill Mahoney, CFO Julia Martin, Applied R&D President Chris Van Metre and Ambrose Schwallie, EVP who runs our Tech Ventures sector.

Q: What programming or tools do you employ to help your organization reach its goals? 
A: We provide internal training and ethics/compliance training for our associates. We also have a corporate teambuilding program (“Teambuilding Activities Group”) where we build morale internally – the group also volunteers at various locations throughout the state – for example Ronald McDonald House. We also have an Employee Volunteer Program that allows associates to use a specified amount of time to volunteer to causes that fit within out mission.

Q: Who are your customers? 
A: As you can imagine, we have lots of customers depending on the business sector… entrepreneurs, universities, government- Congress and the SC Legislature, Department of Defense, industry, investors, our SC Launch companies, the people of SC.

Q: What problems does your organization solve? 
A: Our goal is to foster the high-tech ecosystem in SC – investing in companies, providing access to capital, providing high-tech space where companies can commercialize technologies,

Q: Please share any examples of situations where your services achieved a positive result.
A: Many of our SC Launch companies have been very successful – CreatiVasc Medical is one – we made several rounds of investments, and they were recently acquired by a larger medical company- becoming a graduate of the program. Another company, KIYATEC, has received two rounds of National Cancer Institute funding to further their cancer research. We have helped 17 companies relocate to SC, and our companies have received an extraordinary amount of follow-on investment funding - $381,900,000.

Q: What new initiatives will you be rolling-out in 2016? 
A: We will continue to mentor entrepreneurs and invest in high-tech companies 

Q: What makes your organization relevant to the future of South Carolina? 
A: We are a driving force in SC’s high-tech landscape, working hand-in-hand with our research universities and our economic development partners to achieve goals of advancing the Knowledge Economy.

Q: Will your organization be participating in any upcoming trade shows or other events, or are you being featured in any upcoming industry publications? 
A: We just attended SC Bio and SE Bio, and the Defense Manufacturing Conference. We attend lots of events – one big one coming up in the spring is Dig South.

Q: Where can people go to find out more information? 

A: We will soon be rolling out a new website, so check back for our new look! www.scra.org