HSSC Contributes to the Creation of a New SmartState® Center, SeniorSMART, to Promote Independence among Seniors

September 24, 2007

The SmartState Review Board approved state funding for a new SmartState® Center of Economic Excellence with matching funds coming from HSSC. The newly approved SeniorSMART SmartState® Center is a collaboration between the University of South Carolina (USC) and Clemson University. The new SmartState Center focuses on multidisciplinary research to foster independence for senior citizens. The Center's research will fall under three major themes: SMARTBrain, helping seniors maintain intellectual activity; SMARTWheels, promoting independent mobility outside the home; and SMART Home, helping seniors maintain independence inside the home.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina's over-65 population is projected to grow by 133 percent between 2000 and 2030. As Baby Boomers age, such a profound demographic shift will stress the state's physical and financial infrastructure. Unless society devises new ways to promote independence for older adults, the healthcare system and nursing homes will soon be hard pressed to accommodate the 80-and-over population.

"South Carolina has an excellent opportunity to become nationally competitive in the area of smart mobility," said Harris Pastides, USC vice president for research and health sciences. (Pastides is now president of USC.) "The SeniorSMART SmartState Center leverages core competencies at our state's research universities to help us become a leader in this high-growth industry."

"This Center will address a critical problem for the nation and especially for South Carolina and our surging retiree population," said SmartState Review Board Chair Paula Harper Bethea. "As increasing numbers of people reach their senior years, it's essential to provide ways for them to maintain independence as long as possible. The approval of this Center is an important step in taking care of our aging population."

"The SeniorSMART Center will capitalize on and enrich some of the major research strengths in South Carolina," said Chris Przirembel, Clemson vice president for research and economic development. "We believe that the outcome of this Center's research will be commercial products and services that can offer significant benefit to South Carolina citizens."