SCC, S.C. Research Authority present $200K investment to Duncan company

College partners with Research Authority to support Global Transparent Solutions

Friday, April 13, 2018

by Cheri Anderson-Hucks


Spartanburg Community College and the South Carolina Research Authority partnered on April 12 at the College's Spark Center SC to celebrate investments both organizations have made in support of the Upstate economy and in a Duncan company — Global Transplant Solutions — that could position South Carolina as the epicenter in the advancement of transplant technologies, products and policies.

The College announced a rebranding initiative for the Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Development, now known as the Spark Center SC, and the Research Authority presented $200,000 to Global Transplant Solutions.

"We are approaching 12 years at the SCC Tyger River Campus, and after operating as the CBED, we realized we needed a new name so everyone would automatically recognize what we're doing and the services we provide. We believe our new name, the Spark Center SC, does just that," said Mike Forrester, SCC's vice president of economic development. "This name ties us to Spartanburg and brings to mind a spark that ignites an idea. Even more, our tag line — 'connect, ignite, launch,' tells our story: We connect companies with resources, ignite their business because of connections and they launch after starting at the Spark Center."

Forrester said services offered by the Center include soft landing, incubator, workforce services and special projects, making the Spark Center a game-changer for economic development in Spartanburg County.

"From the beginning, Spartanburg County has been tremendous in funding this faculty and an invaluable partner. Since inception, we have worked with more than 70 companies representing 12 countries from all over the world. Our global footprint includes companies in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Sweden, Israel, Italy, Germany, China and Japan," Forrester said. "This name change truly reflects the global work and huge financial investment the Center brings to the County."

Results of a recent economic impact study were shared, citing the Center has assisted the companies in creating nearly 30,000 jobs and generated over $1 billion in earnings in over the past 11 years.

"Thank you for hosting us today to mark an occasion celebrating an investment in a truly extraordinary company that's going to do great things for the market place and for society. We should be incredibly proud of this facility. It's not only a spark, but a catalyst for economic growth within this region and the betterment of the entire state of South Carolina," said Bob Quinn, executive director of S.C. Research Authority. "For those of you not familiar with SCRA, we foster the state's innovation economy. We do that by providing support and catalyzing academic research as commercialization. We connect industry with innovators within academia and early stage entrepreneurial companies. Finally, we support entrepreneurial companies, through our SC Launch program.

"One of the things that truly excites me are those companies that not only can provide an economic benefit to our state but a societal one as well, and the company we're recognizing today is a substantial example of that. It's not only a company that is doing well, but it is doing good," Quinn said.

John Bruens, chief executive officer of Global Transplant Solutions, accepted the $200,000 from Mark Housley, upstate regional manager with SC Lunch, which is part of SCRA. Bruens says their company currently supplies a complete portfolio of organ preservation solutions to the Canadian transplant market and have received FDA clearance for their first product in the United States. The SC Launch investment will be used to finalize global sales, develop proprietary products and further their research efforts. 

The company currently has distribution agreements established with several national and international partners, and they have offices in Duncan at SCC's Spark Center SC and Toronto, Canada.

"In the transplant process, very specialized solutions are used to maintain organs. The solution that preserves organs, from a donor to the recipient, is the single most important thing in this process, in my belief. It is the one thing that touches the organ more than anything. Our products are manufactured in Italy, and we're selling them in North America - sensitive, temperature controlled solutions that preserve organs have a short shelf life. The logistics to get those products here was a real problem."

But, Bruens said after meeting with Mike Forrester at the Spark Center, there was almost an instant change in their business. Thanks to the Center connecting Global Transplant Solutions with Senator International, an international shipping logistics company, transportation issues were immediately resolved.

"We were in a place that changed the dynamics of our company instantly overnight," Bruens said. "When can that possibly happen when you're starting a business that has global reach? Nearly never, it's impossible. This place did it — the Spark Center did it. This place is all about helping connect.

"We have a propriety product that's going to be a paradigm shift in the world of organ procurement. The state of South Carolina has many potential partners we can work with to cut the development time and the cost of goods to produce tremendously. So here we are with a propriety product, which will be unique in the marketplace — and it will be built right here in South Carolina. It's going to change the face of organ procurement in the U.S. and eventually around the world. And it's all because of guys like Mike (Forrester) with Spark Center and Mark (Housley) with SC Launch, SCRA. When you or someone you know is need of an organ, realize that the investment made here at the Spark Center, may have saved your life."

SCC offers more than 70 academic program offerings including associate degrees, diplomas and certificates, plus University Transfer opportunities to four-year colleges and universities. SCC provides flexible class scheduling including day, evening, weekend classes with multiple start dates and more than 100 online classes through SCCOnline.

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