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University Research Sparks Innovation in SC

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A regular guest on this program, John “Swampfox” Warner, often talks about the importance of our state’s innovation and intellectual capital, particularly that which originates from our research universities.  Our next guest is right in the middle of this scene.

Mike Switzer interviews John Ballato, professor of materials science and engineering at Clemson University, and the Center For Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) where he holds the Sirrine Endowed Chair, part of South Carolina’s SmartState endowed chair program.  He is also Clemson’s former vice president for research and for economic development. He holds nearly 40 US and foreign patents and is an elected member of the US National Academy of Inventors.

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After almost 20 years, Mike Switzer retired from Wells Fargo Securities in 2001 as Senior Vice President/Investment Officer and Certified Portfolio Manager. In 1999, he and his wife, Maggie, purchased and operated for eight years the Baskin Robbins ice cream store on Forest Drive in Columbia. They grew the store from a bottom-tier operation in the Baskin Robbins franchise system to one in the top 5% nationwide within three years, tripling sales along the way. While operating the ice cream store, Mike and Maggie received patents for a portable ice cream sink and fold-down sneezeguard they invented and in 2002 started Magnolia Carts, an ice cream cart manufacturing company, which they sold in 2013.