Small-Cap Life Sci Companies Can Raise Their Profile in 2023 


As we enter 2023, one of the top concerns for many small-cap life sciences companies is how to be seen by industry peers, by venture capitalists and by media outlets. 

There are countless companies across South Carolina and the rest of the southeast that are conducting significant research or developing new patient-centric technologies that few outside of a small niche of industry insiders are aware even exist. These companies are not reaping the rewards of capital investments or partnerships because of that lack of visibility.  

Exposure is a critical element for businesses in the life sciences industry. But oftentimes, that exposure doesn’t seem to be available. That raises the question, how can companies be seen? 

A key first step is to partner with local, regional and statewide economic development organizations. These groups can provide small companies with access to available grants, and also offer opportunities to present data and technology at their annual conference, which isn’t cost prohibitive like the big industry conference that many companies desire to attend. 

For example, the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco is a cornerstone event in the life sciences industry. However, rising costs associated with the event have become prohibitive to many companies. Over the past several years, the cost to attend the conference has increased dramatically. Hotel rooms cost well over $1,000 per night. Tables in hotel lobbies are rented for hundreds of dollars for short periods of time. Food and beverage costs soar, with a simple cup of coffee increasing to $20.  

Air travel also remains expensive due to the increased costs of fuel. Added together, a trip to J.P. Morgan can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars, something that smaller companies may not have in their budget. 

Economic development organizations can help offset the costs for small companies to attend some conferences, such as the upcoming conference hosted by SCbio, South Carolina’s life sciences trade association. SCbio’s annual conference will be held in Charleston from Feb. 21-23. The theme for 2023 is “Tomorrow Starts Here,” which emphasizes the vast potential the Palmetto State’s life sciences ecosystem is playing in the global landscape.  

Companies such as IQVIA, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Prisma Health and more will be in attendance alongside hundreds of other companies from across the state. A conference such as this can be a key platform for small companies to stake their position within the ecosystem and gain broader industry exposure that can ultimately lead to growth.  

I recently joined the SCbio board because I believe the south, and South Carolina in particular, has a unique and intriguing life science story to tell. Life sciences is the fastest growing segment of the state’s economy, growing twice as fast as any other segment. Additionally, the life sciences industry boasts a workforce of more than 85,000 people and a $25.7 billion economic impact in South Carolina.  

Another advantage for smaller companies in South Carolina and the southeastern market is the number of pitch contests, such as the third-annual SC Innovates pitch competition that will be held in March of this year. A pitch competition is also held at the annual Southeast Life Sciences conference. In 2022, five, innovative South Carolina-based organizations were selected to compete at the conference.  There are plenty of available opportunities for small and medium-sized companies. 

Beyond South Carolina, many states across the southeast have their own industry associations that host annual events. Using these platforms, small companies can increase their profiles within the states and regions where they operate and have an easier time showcasing the innovative science being developed.  

Beyond working with an economic development agency, small companies can benefit by collaborating early on with a marketing and public relations agency that specialize in life sciences and medtech. With a passion for amplifying the stories of small-cap companies who desire to gain the attention of VC’s, clinical partners and collaborators, as well as media, these agencies, like my company, Inspire Agency, brings companies out of “stealth mode” and helps give them a platform for sharing their exciting advancements. 

Oftentimes, small-cap companies don’t know when or how to engage with a firm like Inspire. Depending on the need, many companies turn to us for brand development, investor deck creation and website development early on while they are working to achieve key milestones.  

Many companies haven’t even begun dipping their toe in the social media waters. Companies need to be wise in choosing where they will focus their efforts, as not all channels are created equal or warrant the company having a presence on them.  

Following this, we will plot the timeline for key milestones of the company including key senior or notable hires, clinical trial commencements, pilot program announcements, partnership announcements, FDA approvals including 510K clearances, IND approvals and breakthrough device designations, to name a few. 

When these key milestones are ready to be announced, our firm drafts press releases, prepares the company’s social media channels and shares the news with our long-standing life science trade and business media contacts.  

Take advantage of these resources. South Carolina and the southeast will continue to raise its profile in the life sciences industry. If you are a startup or small-cap life sciences company in the southeast that feels unseen, it may be time to take the next step.  

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