Centers of Economic Excellence

June 2008 Program Update

New Centers of Economic Excellence Approved

The Review Board that oversees the Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEE) Program has awarded seven new CoEEs for a total of $25 million. The approval of these new Centers means that research related to several emerging high-tech, high-growth industries will now be conducted in South Carolina.

The seven newly approved CoEEs:


Optoelectronics (Clemson)

Nanoenvironmental Research and Risk Assessment (USC)

Nuclear Science and Energy (USC)

Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy (MUSC/Clemson)

Renal Disease Biomarkers (MUSC)

Advanced Tissue Biofabrication (MUSC/USC/Clemson)

Cyber-Institute (Clemson)

For more information on the kinds of research that will be conducted at these CoEEs, please visit and look on the home page under “Latest News.”


International Brain Imaging Expert Recruited to SC Through CoEE Program

One of the world’s top brain imaging scientists will soon be working in South Carolina, thanks to the CoEE Program.

Dr. Paul Simon Morgan, an expert in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), especially in childhood brain tumors and leukemia, will be coming to South Carolina as a CoEE Endowed Chair at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Dr. Morgan will be working on developing new therapies for childhood tumors and also will be seeking new uses for MRI equipment. He comes to South Carolina from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Morgan will lead the Brain Imaging Center of Economic Excellence, a collaboration between MUSC and the University of South Carolina (USC), with partner Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC). At the Brain Imaging CoEE, the state’s universities and hospital systems are partnering to better understand how the brain works and to help treat brain diseases.

Scientists at the Center are working on treatments and cures for neurodegenerative diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.  This work is particularly relevant as South Carolina has the nation’s second-highest mortality rate from stroke and the fourth-highest mortality rate from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Research conducted by the Brain Imaging CoEE has the potential to lead to technological developments in a number of industries including medical device manufacturing, MRI hardware technology, and software development. 


CU-ICAR Announces Partnership with Mazda, New Jobs

The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) has celebrated several successful partnerships recently.


CU-ICAR currently has four CoEE Endowed Chair positions, three of which have been filled. These faculty members help form the academic team for one of the nation’s most exceptional master’s and doctoral degree programs in automotive engineering (including the first automotive engineering doctoral program in the country). These programs would not have been possible without the CoEE Program.


CU-ICAR recently announced its first partnership with an Asian original equipment manufacturer. Mazda North American Operations has initially pledged $30,000 to CU-ICAR to fund annual graduate fellowships.  


Three $10,000 fellowships will be provided to automotive engineering graduate students. The fellowships are performance-based and renewable for up to three years.


Mazda donated a CX-7 crossover SUV, drive trains, sub-assemblies, and other components to be used as learning tools by Clemson faculty and students.


CU-ICAR has also announced that it will be the headquarters for INTEC U.S., Inc., a German-based company and a leading developer of software for the automotive industry. The company’s clients include BMW, Daimler, Bombardier, and Bosch.


INTEC will provide multi-body and real-time simulation software to CU-ICAR professors and graduate students. This will be the company’s first U.S. presence, and it hopes to create 15 software technology jobs at its CU-ICAR campus location in the next five years.


CU-ICAR has been a tremendous force for economic development in South Carolina. BMW, Michelin, and Timken have all located corporate offices on the CU-ICAR campus, and Timken’s partnership has generated more than 200 high-paying jobs in the Upstate region.


SeniorSMART™ Center of Economic Excellence Gains International Partners

The SeniorSMART™ CoEE, which is actively working to preserve the quality of life for older adults through technology, has recently gained major new research partners. These partners will help SeniorSMART™ develop technology to support independent living for seniors.

In a giant step forward for the SeniorSMART™ CoEE, the USC School of Medicine, Palmetto Health, and Lutheran Homes of South Carolina have recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the German Fraunhofer Institute for Software Engineering.

Together, the partners will develop and test technology designed to help older adults live at home longer. Applications may include software that is able to detect subtle changes in a person’s physical condition and collect pertinent data such as changes in weight, heart rate, or indications of a fall, and then alert caregivers, family, or a home monitoring service of a potential problem.

Lutheran Homes of South Carolina has committed the use of a cottage on its Lowman Homes campus in White Rock, S.C., as a laboratory where researchers can test newly developed SmartHOME™ technology to determine its effectiveness and commercial potential.

The Fraunhofer Institute has a proven track record for commercializing new technology. It invented and holds the patent on MP3 technology, a digital audio encoding format that is the foundation of music downloading from the Internet and has transformed the music industry.


CoEE Program Helping SC Companies Grow and Create Jobs

Some of South Carolina’s leading businesses and organizations have provided matching funds for the CoEE Program. Executives from these companies recently shared their thoughts on the CoEE Program and its long-term benefits:


Bobby Hitt—Public Relations Manager, BMW

BMW invested $10 million in the CoEE Program to help fund automotive-related research at Clemson University.

“[The CoEE Program] has allowed us to improve our products and processes. Constant innovation is the only way that companies can stay competitive today, and the partnership with South Carolina’s research universities is a big part of our efforts to continuously improve what we make and the way we do things.

“In a decade, I believe South Carolina will consistently compete against top-tier locations across the globe for knowledge-based jobs and corporate investment—and win . . . . Prioritizing education and research makes a statement to the world and can change the course of South Carolina.”


Ralph Hulseman—Director of External Research, Michelin

Michelin invested $3 million in the CoEE Program to help fund automotive-related research at Clemson University.


“Through the program, Michelin has enhanced its long-standing relationships with several vehicle manufacturers and with Clemson. We have also created new relationships with several technology suppliers and other vendors. Key technologies have emerged that are of benefit to Michelin. Also, the development of an advanced degree program, specific to our industry, will provide an excellent source of recruiting for future talent.”


Goverdhan Lahoti, Integration Leader, Timken

Timken invested $3 million to help fund automotive-related research at Clemson University.

“The vision for the CU-ICAR Campus is to make it the premier automotive and motor sports research and educational facility in the world, where industry and academia get together to enhance development by sharing resources for research activities. Timken will be a part of that success, and we couldn’t ask for more from our investment.”


Jay Moskowitz—President, Health Sciences South Carolina

HSSC is a statewide collaboration that includes the state’s three research universities and three of its largest healthcare systems. HSSC has invested more than $20 million to help fund health sciences–related research at USC, MUSC, and Clemson University.

“Over the long term, HSSC member organizations expect important returns from the initial investments made in CoEEs. Collaborative approaches to patient safety, including infection control and reducing hospital-acquired infections, will increase. Interoperable patient records will allow healthcare providers to respond more quickly to life-threatening illness and emergencies . . . . We’ll be able to move healthcare technology faster from bench to bedside. More commercially successful technology will be made in South Carolina.”


Who We Are

The S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence Program was established by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2002, funded through South Carolina Education Lottery proceeds. The legislation authorizes the state's three public research institutions, Medical University of South Carolina, Clemson University, and the University of South Carolina, to use state funds to create Centers of Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina's economy. Each Center of Economic Excellence is awarded from $2 million to $5 million in state funds, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with non-state funds. The program also supports CoEE endowed chairs, world-renowned scientists who lead the Centers of Economic Excellence. By investing in talent and technology, the CoEE Program is designed to fuel the state's knowledge-based economy, resulting in high-paying jobs and an improved standard of living in South Carolina.

For more information on the CoEE Program, visit