New Partnership Unites SC Businesses

At the Governor’s Mansion
Governor Henry McMaster shows exceptional needs students how to use Abii, an educational teaching tool from Van Robotics.

Columbia, S.C. – Exceptional SC and the South Carolina Research Authority announced Wednesday the formation of Exceptional Connections – a new partnership that unites SC businesses with exceptional needs students. This business-education partnership joins together South Carolina’s business community with more than 3,000 exceptional needs scholarship students and schools across the state.

At a formal announcement at the SC Governor’s mansion, Gov. Henry McMaster said of the partnership, “The funds, the schools, the businesses – when you bring them all together, the skies the limit.”

Exceptional Connections will connect businesses across the state with special needs students and schools in their area for internships, potential jobs and mentorship. “This is the lifeline of economic growth for these students,” said Exceptional SC Executive Director Chad Connelly. “When they have the education they need, in the setting that best meets their learning styles, and they have the ability to connect with businesses in their area, these students are poised for success.”

“We’re bringing early stage technology companies, some of whom are working to improve education opportunities and technologies, to the table with mentoring, grants and investments,” added Bob Quinn, Executive Director of the SC Research Authority. “Partnering with schools only strengthens those relationships.”

Midlands technology start-up CEO Laura Buccanfuso of VAN Robotics echoed the importance of the relationships, “Our mission is to level the academic playing field for students from every background, from every skill level, and from across the range of different attentional needs. We build smart robot technologies that adapt to the learning needs of every single student, every single time. We do this through opportunities like these.”

“I am an exceptional fan of Exceptional SC and SCRA, and I encourage business owners in the state to ‘taximize,’ ” said Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy. “Taximize” is the opportunity for individuals and business to fund both the Exceptional SC Scholarship Fund and the SCRA Industry Partnership Fund by redirecting their state tax dollars to receive dollar-for-dollar credits toward their South Carolina tax liability. Exceptional SC is also an opportunity for founders, investors and Fortune 1,000 companies to incorporate purpose-driven programming into their business models.

Learn more about the SCRA Industry Partnership Fund at
Learn more about the Exceptional SC Scholarship Fund at

The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) was chartered in 1983 as a public non-profit corporation to fuel our state’s innovation economy. It does this by providing funding, support and mentoring to create jobs, nurture company growth, enhance academic and corporate research and facilitate commercialization. SCRA has an annual economic impact of $700 million, facilitating the creation of almost 4,100 jobs at an average salary of $71,000, as well as provides investments and grants which have led to over $1B in follow-on funding by third parties and venture capitalists.

Exceptional SC is South Carolina’s only exceptional needs scholarship program that enables parents to select the best educational opportunities for their exceptional needs students in the settings that best meet their individual learning styles. This new partnership that unites SC businesses with exceptional needs students gives parents more flexibility in planning their child’s educational future.