Thursday, July 28, 2011

South Carolina Israeli Trade Mission

By George Fletcher

For the past six months, I have had the privilege of working with a group called the South Carolina/Israeli collaboration. Chaired by Charleston’s Jonathon Zucker, the group is working with the American Israeli Chamber in Atlanta on partnerships between the SC research universities and Israeli universities, as well as establishing business relationships in six clusters. New Carolina was invited to join the collaboration because of our data base on clusters. The six target clusters are Biomedical, Advanced Materials, Sustainable Systems (water, energy, agriculture), Transportation (auto, aerospace), Defense/Security and Insurance and Health Information Technology. SC obviously has signficant strengths in these clusters.

Educational session were held at the Greenville Chamber and the Columbia Chamber on July 27th and at the CRDA offices in Charleston on July 28th. Background information on the collaboration was presented. Israel produces more high tech companies than anyplace other than Silicon Valley. Innovation that came from Israel included the DVD, the jump drive, the cellphone, voice over internet, voice mail, plasma and LCD TV’s, firewalls and many other innovations in medical devices, security and weapons. The culture for innovation was documented in the book Startup Nation which I highly recommend.

The collaboration would like to recruit a group of key SC people for a trade mission on the week before Thanksgiving. Details on the mission, itineraries and participant applications are on a recently created website

As many of you know, I am a recovering engineer who’s expertise was in water and wastewater. During the proposed week of the trade mission, Israel is hosting WATEC, an international water conference that will attract 20,000 people. Israel uses every drop of water 4 times. They have planted 450 million trees in the desert. They invented drip irrigation. The conference will showcase some of the Israeli innovations in water. Over the past two days, we have had 20 of the leaders in water meet with Booky Oren, the conference chairman and one of the great Israeli private sector innovators in water technologies. I believe that a separate partnership will develop in the area of water and wastewater reuse.

Thanks to Tom Glaser of the American Israeli Chamber of Commerce, and to Jonathon Zucker, CEO of Intertech, for driving this effort.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harvard Business School Case Study

by George Fletcher

Michael Porter's think tank at the Harvard Business School is called the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness (ISCC). That is the organization that is managing the EDA funded Cluster Mapping Project, of which New Carolina is a team member.

Dr. Porter teaches one course at Harvard on regional competitiveness. That course is licensed to almost 100 Universities around the world through an organization called the Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC). The Moore School at USC is a member of that consortium. Every year representative of the MOC go to Harvard in December to get an update on research and recent ISCC activities.

Last weeks, Dr. Jorge Ramirez from ISCC was in Columbia to collect information on a case study for the MOC. This study will review all activites of New Carolina since Dr. Porter was here in 2003. The idea of the case study is to provide the facts of the situation and the students will provide approaches to the problem. A separte document will be developed for the faculty saying what actually happened.

This is an incredible opportunity for New Carolina and the State of Scuth Carolina. Probably 10,000 students a year will review clustering activities in South Carolina and think through what should be done to advance these clusters. Ed Sellers and I have been invited to address the MOC reps in December.

Thanks to Ed Sellers, Amy Love, Chad Prosser, Scott Carlberg, Neil McLean, Steve Warner, Jim Reynolds and Don Herriott for taking the time to speak with Jorge Ramirez. We gave him detailed information on the other clusters and there may be follow-up.

The case will be available to groups around the world for purchase. The work of the hundreds of New Carolina volunteers will be memorialized.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Midlands Clusters

by George Fletcher

Congratulations to Amy Love, who has already been promoted from Senior Manager of Global Business Development to Marketing and Communications Director at the SC Department of Commerce. In that role, she will be in constant contact with the Governor, the Secretary of Commerce and his senior staff. I know she will do a great job.

I have not used this blog as I should have. In the post Amy world of New Carolina communications, I will try to improve.

On Tuesday, July 19, I attended a meeting of the Midlands Cluster Oversight Committee. This group is Chaired by Cathy Novinger and has approximately 20 members. Staffing is being provided by Neil McLean and Sagacious Partners. This is an excellent model for regional clusters, especially when Cathy and Neil provide the leadership.

The committee has identified four cluster areas: Clean Energy (specifically Fuel Cells and Nuclear), Insurance and Health Care Technology, Health Care/Health Sciences. With nuclear, they are taking our multi-state approach and finding niches that can be specifically applied to the Midlands.

Many people believe that the next big thing in Nuclear will be Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s). There was a conference in Columbia this spring on SMR’s and nearly 300 people from all over the country paid $2000 to attend a two day conference. These 250 MW units could potentially replace coal plants in the US or provide power to some of the planet’s remotest places. Alaska, for example, has a huge interest in SMR’s. Senior nuclear people at SCANA and the Savannah River Site think that research, testing and manufacturing of these units could and should take place in SC. Congress is considering appropriating $400 million or more to this purpose. One manufacture believes that exports could hit $100 billion by 2030. To put that number in perspective, BMW currently ships 700 cars per day though the Port of Charleston and that amounts to $4.2 billion.

The Midlands Nuclear Cluster group is called NuHub and it demonstrates exactly the kind of private sector driven economic development that is the hallmark of successful cluster strategies.