Centers of Economic Excellence

March 2010 Program Update

New CoEE Chair Hudson plans to boost South Carolina’s tourism industry through technology


Dr. HudsonDr. Simon Hudson has been appointed as the CoEE Endowed Chair in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management. In that role, he leads the CoEE in Tourism and Economic Development at USC. Coastal Carolina University is also a partner in the Center.

The Tourism and Economic Development CoEE will focus on tourism as a driver of economic growth and job creation in South Carolina.

“Often, tourism is an academic subject not taken seriously despite its importance as an industry,” Hudson says. “It is, after all, one of the largest industries in the world.”

“One of the goals of the Center is to become a one-stop resource of relevant information and intelligence to all tourism industry stakeholders by providing cost-effective research,” he continues.

“Tourism is now one of the largest industries in South Carolina, responsible for more than $17 billion in spending and employing more than 200,000 people—approximately 10% of South Carolina's workforce. [But] to me, the tourism industry in South Carolina is not fulfilling its potential,” Hudson says.

“South Carolina has an amazing tourism product—incredible beaches, over 300 golf courses, beautiful lakes, rich cultural tourism, and of course terrific hospitality. By leading cutting-edge tourism and hospitality research that is relevant and directly applicable to the tourism industry in South Carolina, we can ultimately improve the state’s competitiveness as a tourism destination, thus securing sustainable employment in the tourism sector.”

Hudson arrives to South Carolina from the University of Calgary in Canada. Hudson has written five books. His latest, Golf Tourism, details international best practices in marketing, management, operations and development, including a case study on South Carolina.

Hudson notes that the state’s CoEE Program shows South Carolina’s commitment to innovation and was a major factor in his decision to move his work to the Palmetto State. “It is wonderful to be part of a high-profile program that will spur the state’s economic development,” he says.

CoEE Program helped attract fuel cell company Trulite to Columbia

Trulite, a company that builds hydrogen fuel cell generators and canisters, is moving its manufacturing and administration operations to Columbia. The company will create about 100 jobs in 2010, and could create several hundred additional jobs during the next few years.

USC’s four fuel cell–related Centers of Economic Excellence were major selling points for Trulite.

“One of the reasons we are moving to South Carolina is the opportunity to tap into the research and development there and to work more closely with the CoEE Endowed Chairs,” says Ron Seftick, Trulite president.

In fact, two of USC’s CoEE Endowed Chairs, Drs. Brian Benicewicz(Polymer Nanocomposites) and Kenneth Reifsnider (Solid Oxide Fuel Cells) took part in the initial discussions with Trulite company leaders as they considered moving their operations from California.

Benicewicz and Reifsnider made a compelling case for South Carolina, and the state ended up beating out Ohio and Connecticut as well as California, which wanted the company to stay.

A goal of the CoEE Program is attracting new companies and new jobs to the state. The program’s advanced research and distinguished researchers draw companies seeking to improve their products and processes.

“Discussions between Trulite and faculty active in the Future Fuels™ initiative at USC over several years have established a solid foundation for collaboration,” Reifsnider explains. “The decision of Trulite to locate in South Carolina follows the establishment of several Centers of Economic Excellence in materials, fuel cells, and related technologies which will provide the essential science and engineering support needed for Trulite to be successful in the energy economy of the future.”

“The CoEE Program’s investments in world-class researchers is one of the cornerstones to our region’s knowledge-based economic development strategy,” says Greg Hilton of EngenuitySC, one of several public- and private-sector organizations involved in bringing Trulite to South Carolina.

South Carolina’s commitment to hydrogen and fuel cell technology, along with its existing hydrogen-related infrastructure, impressed Trulite officials. The company was also impressed by the opportunity it would have to attract workers from Midlands Technical College, which offers a certificate in Alternative Energy Technology Principles.

Trulite already has orders for many thousands of its small generators and canisters, which, unlike gas models, are silent and can be used inside. The company is working to expand its product offerings, find new applications, and anticipates rapid growth during the next few years.

CoEE Program celebrates recent successes

Scientists and engineers at South Carolina’s Centers of Economic Excellence have been busy innovating in a variety of fields. Any or all of these technological advances could lead to commercialization, which could ultimately result in new companies and new jobs for South Carolina.


Scientists at the Renal Disease Biomarkers CoEE have identified a set of proteins that can distinguish between two common acute kidney diseases. This breakthrough is a major step forward in creating an important clinical test to diagnose kidney disease. 

Through the Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety CoEE, more than 100 courses have been developed for health care professionals. These courses, designed to improve health care quality, have resulted in more than 16,000 training sessions throughout the state.

The Stroke CoEE implemented the Remote Evaluation of Acute Ischemic Stroke (REACH) Network in May 2008. The REACH Network provides round-the-clock, Internet-based stroke consultation for patients in rural areas of the state. Through REACH, doctors at MUSC can treat stroke victims at community hospitals remotely with Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA), a clot-busting drug that dramatically reduces stroke-related disability or death. Because of the REACH Network, from May 2008 through June 2009, twice the number of stroke patients at REACH clinics and hospitals were treated with t-PA therapy than were treated in the full previous year.


At the Brain Imaging CoEE, scientists are studying a new technique using TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Simulation) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) for identifying how the brain works as a step toward treating brain damage.

The Healthcare Quality CoEE has formed the “South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust” to identify ways to reduce patient harm and costs while improving health care quality. An initial priority is reducing hospital-acquired infections in South Carolina. All 65 acute-care hospitals in the state plan to participate.

The Strategic Environmental Approaches to Electricity Production from Coal CoEE has developed a new process for capturing carbon dioxide from the stack gas of coal-fired power plants. This technology could make power plants less expensive to construct and easier to operate.

The SeniorSMART™ CoEE is using Virtual Rehabilitation (VEHAB) to address balance issues in seniors.

At Clemson:

At the Automotive Systems Integration CoEE, scientists at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) have developed the Deep Orange initiative in which students, faculty, and industry partners will engineer and manufacture a new vehicle prototype each year. This initiative has attracted attention from local and national automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers.

At the Automotive Manufacturing CoEE, CU-ICAR scientists are exploring the use of titanium armor rather than steel armor for civilian vehicles, which could result in significant performance improvement.

At the Advanced Fiber-based Materials CoEE, research is being conducted on a yarn substrate material for growth of artificial tendons. Also, scientists are working to develop architectural materials from recycled soda bottles. These materials have intrinsic strength and can insulate nearly as effectively as fiberglass.

Scientists at the Optical Materials CoEE developed a practical optical fiber, which could have a profound impact on efficiency in electronic devices worldwide.


CoEE Endowed Chairs present at HEAL SC conference

Earlier this month, the first Health Economy Advancement Legacy SC (HEAL SC) conference, which promotes health sciences–related economic development, was held in Columbia. The conference was organized by Health Sciences South Carolina, a consortium of South Carolina’s major health care providers and the state’s three research universities. Health Sciences South Carolina is an important partner in several health-related CoEEs.

At the conference, nine CoEE Endowed Chairs and four CoEE center directors gave presentations about their research. To view the presentations, please click on the names below.


Dr. Robert Adams, Stroke CoEE

Dr. Charles Bennett, Medication Safety and Efficacy CoEE

Dr. Paul Morgan, Brain Imaging CoEE

Dr. Jay Moskowitz, Healthcare Quality CoEE

Dr. Jihad Obeid, Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety CoEE

Dr. Iain Sanderson, Healthcare Quality CoEE

Dr. John Schaefer, Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety CoEE

Dr. Charles Smith, Cancer Drug Discovery CoEE

Dr. Richard Swaja, Regenerative Medicine CoEE

Mr. David Allison, Health Facilities Design and Testing CoEE

Dr. Paul Eleazer, SeniorSMART™ CoEE

Dr. Andrew Kraft, Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy CoEE

Dr. Inderjit Singh, Childhood Neurotherapeutics CoEE


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