The minimum criteria to be in the SC Launch program are:

  • The business is a South Carolina based entity, meaning the company is based in SC with entity established and registered with the SC Secretary of State and at least 51% of payroll is/will be located in SC. (accommodation is available for companies interested in relocation to the state)
  • The business is considered to be an advanced-technology or knowledge-based business such as Life Science, Advanced Materials, Transportation, Defense, Information Technology, Energy or Chemical Engineering Process.
  • The company has a protected intellectual property position or a distinct competitive advantage. (Private investors like to see protectable, innovative technology, and as such your product should not be easy to replicate and should include intellectual property such as trade secrets, patents and trademarks.)
  • The business model potentially could be high-impact in South Carolina. (The desire is for start-ups that can grow into sizable businesses in the State, creating high-wage earning jobs and revenues.)
  • The principal or founders have invested their own money in the business, beyond “sweat equity,” and/or have raised initial capital from others sources (e.g., friends, family, banks, etc.)
  • There is a positive discriminator if the company is affiliated with MUSC, USC or Clemson.

If an entity is eligible, SC Launch program can provide the following range of financial incentives:

  • Grant (non-return-based) incentives
    • Project Development Funding.  Once a company has been admitted to the SC Launch program, the company may be eligible for funding up to $12,500 in the form of a project development funding (PDF) grant.  PDF grants may be awarded to help defray the cost of business services such as legal, financial, marketing and intellectual property protection. Grants also are intended to further the development efforts, including proof-of-concept studies, prototype development, clinical trials and/or technology demonstrations, and better position the client company for future growth and fund-raising.
    • University Start-up Assistance Program.  The University Start-up Assistance Program (USAP) encourages the commercialization of university research and technology.  This program supports university based pre-company initiatives and early stage start-ups from Clemson University, University of South Carolina (USC) or the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) by providing grant funding up to $25,000 for proof-of-concept studies, prototype development, clinical trials, protection of intellectual property and other similar uses.
    • SBIR Phase 0 Program.  The South Carolina EPSCoR/IDeA Program administers the South Carolina Small Business Innovation Research Phase-0 program to provide small businesses with seed investments to foster competitive research and development proposal submissions.  The SBIR Phase-0 program provides seed grants up to $6,000 per proposal to small businesses seeking: (1) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) support or (2) partnerships, contracts, and grants for innovative research concepts.
    • SBIR/STTR Phase I Matching Grant Program.  This program is designed to award matching funds to South Carolina-based companies that have been granted a Federal Small Business Innovation Research Program or Small Business Technology Transfer Program (the “Federal SBIR/STTR Program”) Phase I award.  The SBIR / STTR matching grant program will match 100% of Phase I grants up to a maximum of $50,000, with the actual amount dependent upon the level of fit corresponding to the criteria established by SC Launch investment policies, paying out 75% at the time of grant approval and 25% at the time of filing of a Phase II submission.
    • Other Programs.  Additional programs include support for landing parties and demonstration projects. Landing parties are R&D stage companies that relocate to South Carolina and make a commitment to grow the Knowledge Economy.  Demonstration projects conceptualize, attract and execute technology in focused program areas.
  • Loan and Equity (return-based) Investments  TheSC Launch Board approves all loans and investments from SC Launch, Inc. The funding is intended as seed capital that fills gaps in funding from individual investors, angel investment groups, lenders, private equity firms, and other sources. Funding from SC Launch Inc. is supplemental; it is not intended to replace funding from other sources.
    • Maximum funding in a single investment round is $200,000.  In unique cases a company may be eligible for a second round of funding from this source.
    • The SC Launch Inc. Board, in its sole discretion, selects the best opportunities and directs available funding for maximum benefit to the state’s knowledge economy. It gives priority to opportunities which are closely aligned with the enabling legislation and SC Launch program focuses
    • Evaluation of candidate companies and due diligence are performed by the SC Launch staff.  Requirements are a function of the potential level of investment. Successful completion of due diligence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for investment.

Additional “Non-Monetary” Assistance Available through SC Launch

  • Access to our Resource Partners.  The SC Launch Resource Partners are seasoned professionals who provide basic business services such as banking, accounting, legal, insurance, advertising, human resources, IT and marketing. Through this network, SC Launch companies also receive counseling, mentoring and training.
  • Networking and Connections.   Our organization is well-connected among businesses, investors as well as the economic development sector of the State and can provide important networking opportunities that will assist your business.

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