CEO Sam Konduros calls his time with SCBio a “four-year honeymoon,” but new opportunities for the life science lynchpin lie on the horizon.
Starting in May, Konduros will pass the torch to COO and Vice President Erin Ford, who will take on the role of interim CEO, as he spearheads a rising health innovation venture with executives of Charleston-based Vikor Scientific.
He said it is another opportunity to exercise his penchant for building companies and initiatives from the ground up, “which seems to be my calling card to some extent, because this will be a new company in their portfolio company.”
Konduros said he can’t share specifics about the startup until early May, but he told GSA Business Report that he will step in as the company’s CEO while serving on Vikor Scientific’s board of directors.
The startup will be geared toward “delivering a novel blueprint to the health care marketplace, powered by AI and blockchain technologies and focuses on science-based personalized medicine strategies to solve some of the nation’s most pressing health care challenges,” according to a news release today.
The Vikor portfolio company will not be affiliated with Vikor’s and Quantgene Inc.'s new cancer-preventative treatment, Serenity, and corresponding innovation division Korlife, he said, but does follow Vikor’s recent burst in “explosive growth” as the company has spread its impact from Charleston to Philadelphia over the past three years.
“They recently acquired a pathology lab in Tampa, and this will be the next significant diversification for the company,” he said, adding that he aims to be “able to help in any way that I can with the overall strategic direction of the company, but clearly, I will be highly focused in a CEO role, building and leading a new team of executives and developing facilities in relation to the new company we will be talking about maybe in less than a month.”
Konduros is working closely with SCBio’s board leadership on a transition strategy as they search for Konduros’ successor.
“Sam Konduros has been a force — for economic development, for life sciences and for the long-term prosperity of South Carolina,” SCBio Board of Directors Chair Lou Kennedy, also the CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals, said in the news release. “It has been an honor to work with him. He has made a remarkable impact on this organization, and he leaves it better than he found it, as one of the most influential associations in the state. We thank Sam for the service and sacrifice he has given to SCBio, and we wish him all the best.”
Ford has served as primary day-to-day lead for SCBio’s business operations and finances, championing investor relations and existing industry strategies and marketing initiatives since joining SCBio in 2017, and Konduros confessed that he hoped Ford, “an amazing partner to me and has been for almost the entire four years,” would consider becoming SCBio’s CEO for the long haul.
“Our innovative companies and exceptional workforce are drivers in strengthening this industry, and we know that the life sciences will continue to play a critically important role in our state’s economic success,” Ford said about her future plans for the company in the release. “Sam has been an incredible contributor to this effort, and we intend to build on our Board’s, team’s and his vision to build, advance and grow life sciences in our state.”
During Konduros’ tenure with the economic development group, SCBio has more than doubled membership and quadrupled revenues and helped foster the life sciences industry as the fastest growing industry in the state with a $12 billion economic impact and 700 sector firms in tow.
He said that looking back over the past four years, his proudest milestones with SCBio focus on helping the organization shine the spotlight on the state’s burgeoning sector and spurring economic development, innovation and talent in the life science arena.
“We always promote economic development in those … areas: first and foremost, taking care of the existing industries, companies from Nephron and Vikor Scientific to young startups and early-stage innovation companies and hundreds of companies in between,” he said. “Getting to know all those companies and having the privilege to solve problems and advance efforts on their behalf has been such a joy. And then recruiting that next generation of companies and being involved in some significant projects which continue to be underway right now is very motivating for me, to continue to pack muscle onto the state’s ecosystem.”
South Carolina life sciences has seen a near-doubling of firms and 40% increase in life sciences’ direct employment since 2017, according to recent data provided by Joey Von Nessen, the state's research economist and noted economic development expert with the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
“We have been adding new board-level investors almost on a weekly basis here,” he told GSA Business Report. “So, it’s just caught fire.”
The past year has been marked by new programs that helped launch innovation in the field, spurred on by the SCBio team, its partners and the organization's investors, he said, adding that these efforts have been equally as rewarding to lead.
“This month is clearly going to be a very busy transition, because SCBio has had so much going on,” he said. “It has never been moving faster, never more momentum, a lot of interaction with the governor’s office in recent weeks, which I think will continue to propel the industry forward in new ways, because I think the state is clearly recognizing the power and significance of the life science industry and what it can mean for the state.”