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2nd South Carolina Mission to Israel Produces Deal and Leads

NeuroQuest Gets Funding, Looks to Open US Center in State

Under the auspices of the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration, a delegation of the state’s business, university, and economic development leaders travelled throughout Israel, December 1-6, for a weeklong mission to pursue economic, trade, and research opportunities with counterparts in that country.  Their itinerary included visits to Israel’s major research universities, meetings with key government officials, briefings, presentations on “Why South Carolina”, and the prospect of pursuing opportunities with specific Israeli companies.

In all, the delegation conducted more than 100 meetings in the country.  Many companies were interested in learning about the potential of South Carolina as a base for penetrating the US market, and members of the delegation reported that they are following up on excellent leads for their own businesses and the state.

One Israeli company, NeuroQuest, announced financing totaling $500,000 by Charleston-based The Intertech Group and the Maryland/Israel Trendlines Fund.  The company is also engaged in discussions with the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) about a grant to support the opening of a US development center in Charleston as the base of its clinical and regulatory work.

A portfolio company of the Trendlines Group’s Misgav Venture Accelerator, NeuroQuest is moving quickly towards an important validation trial of novel blood-based immune biomarkers for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Their platform for neurodegenerative diseases is based on the research of Prof. Michal Schwartz, Chair of Neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, who pioneered the concept of Protective AutoImmunity.  The success of the validation trial would present a new approach for a simple, inexpensive, and early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Jacobo Mintzer, Co-Director of Alzheimer’s Research & Clinical Programs of the Medical University of South Carolina, has joined NeuroQuest as its new VP of Clinical affairs to leverage his experience in over 200 Alzheimer’s related clinical trials.  Mintzer participated in the original South Carolina delegation last year which met NeuroQuest in November 2011.  NeuroQuest’s CEO,
Ilya Budik, credited the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region for forging these important connections for his company.

Leading the 2012 delegation was Jonathan Zucker, President of Charleston-based The InterTech Group and chair of the Collaboration’s steering committee, whose company has provided AICC with annual grants to organize the Collaboration.  “This trip was our opportunity to build on the success of our first mission and to land some significant companies and partnerships that will benefit our state and create jobs here,” said Zucker.

In addition to Zucker, the South Carolina delegation included Pennie Bingham (Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce), James Bourey (Elliott Davis, LLC), Robert Donato (MUSC), Morris Ellison ( Womble Carlyle), Coty Fishburne (MUSC Board of Trustees), Tom Glaser (AICC), Joseph Helpern (MUSC), Don Herriott (University of South Carolina), Robert Johnston (The InterTech Group), Ram Kalus (Plastic Surgery of the Carolinas), Bill Mahoney (SCRA), Sunil Patel (MUSC), Bobby Pearce (Smith Moore Leatherwood), Keith Shah (Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina), Karan Sorensen (Sorensen Strategies), Raymond Turner (MUSC), Marlene Wilson (University of South Carolina School of Medicine), and Thomas Vogt (USC NanoCenter).

Organized by the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, SE Region, the mission is one of the key elements of the program of work for the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration that was launched throughout the state last year.  The Collaboration’s mission is “to stimulate business and research partnerships between companies and universities in South Carolina and Israel as a way to generate economic development, jobs, and investments to the benefit of all.”   It is built around six identified clusters of strength in South Carolina and Israel where there exists a strong potential of synergy and relevance:  Biomedical, Advanced Materials, Sustainable Systems, Transportation, Defense / Security, and Insurance / Health IT.

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