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Darla Moore School of Business

SmartState Center for Innovation + Commercialization

The SmartState® Center for Innovation + Commercialization is dedicated to preparing students, and thus their organizations, to successfully lead and manage innovation.


Apple founder Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” That statement applies to both companies and individuals. Today, organizations of all sizes and in all industries understand the importance of innovation. Whether it’s products, services or processes, innovation solves customer needs, drives growth, creates differentiation and attracts the best talent. Innovation has many sources such as R&D labs or licensed technology. The challenge lies in bridging the gap between science and technology and the marketplace.

South Carolina’s “Smart” Approach to Innovation and Opportunities 

In 2002, the South Carolina General Assembly established the SmartState® Program to recruit world-class researchers and scientists aligned with six industry clusters* to the state’s research universities, including the University of South Carolina. The result is the creation of 51 SmartState Centers, led by 75 SmartState Endowed Chairs. These SmartState Endowed Chairs are tasked with igniting South Carolina’s economy, supporting job creation and providing educational opportunities for students, who in turn will be better prepared to lead and staff South Carolina businesses.

*Advanced Materials/Nanotechnology; Automotive, Transportation & Logistics; Biomedical; Energy/Future Fuels/Smart Grid; Information Science; and Pharmaceutical.

About the Center

The Darla Moore School of Business is home to the SmartState Center for Innovation + Commercialization, led by SmartState Endowed Chair Laura B. Cardinal. The center serves as a critical interface between SmartState Centers and those interested in tapping into the innovation-oriented research, commercialization, and educational opportunities of the SmartState Endowed Chairs and their research labs. Access to these centers facilitates more opportunities in South Carolina for corporate technology firms, tech-consuming companies, small-to-medium enterprise firms, startups, investors, employees and students.

Preparing Students

The SmartState Center for Innovation + Commercialization is committed to educating the next generation of job-ready innovation and commercialization experts through the Moore School's Professional MBA program. In this program, Cardinal teaches MGMT 733 Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation. The center also offers independent studies and special topics courses focused on innovation. This curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in the language, processes and management of innovation and why it is mission critical for business. The center’s PMBA courses are designed to instill companies’ current workforce talent with a deep understanding of the science behind technology and innovation and how to lead and manage innovation and commercialization efforts. Graduates are prepared to enter the workforce with a strong foundation in innovation management.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.