Over the past seven years, the Office for Innovation, Partnership and Economic Engagement has become a focal point for industries melding the University of South Carolina’s resources with doing business in the Palmetto State. The result has been nearly $800 million worth of economic development, 620 jobs and $86 million in job-related impact, according to Bill Kirkland, the office’s executive director (in photo) and guest speaker for Capital Rotary’s June 3 meeting via Zoom. Kirkland said the engagement office’s work includes (1) corporate outreach; (2 help in licensing intellectual property; (3) innovation assistance for entrepreneurs; (4) support at the Innovista research campus in downtown Columbia; and (5) recruiting companies to the state. In the past six months, over $7 million in small business research grants have come as a result of the university’s “strategic creative partnership with corporate America,” Kirkland reported. For the past eight years, South Carolina has been among the top 100 universities granted U.S. patents. “We’re also the fifth fastest-growing manufacturing state in the nation,” Kirkland said. A former head of the university’s Columbia Technology Incubator, Kirkland also held executive management positions with IBM and Pfizer and was a managing partner for South Carolina-based LK Global Consulting. Capital Rotary has been holding biweekly video meetings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.