Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tech Council Event Provides Update on Area Research Parks

The Triad’s two research parks are booming, bringing in private companies and creating new jobs, according to panelists speaking Tuesday at the Winston-Salem Chamber’s Technology and Innovation Series, held at Wake Forest Biotech Place in the Piedmont Triad Research Park (PTRP).

Item: The Joint School of Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering at the Gateway University Research Park in Greensboro, which moved into its new building in December, is already running out of space with more students enrolled than expected, according to John Merrill, executive director of the park. The school and Gateway’s two campuses are joint projects of N.C. A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Item: Wake Forest University School of Medicine, which moved into Biotech Place in renovated R.J. Reynolds buildings in the PTRP earlier this year, is planning to use three more Reynolds buildings nearby, one for the Division of Public Health Sciences, according to Dr. Edward Abraham, dean.

Item: Carolina Liquid Chemistries, which looked at a wet lab launch pad in PTRP and moved in the next day, now has moved its headquarters – and 25 employees – to Biotech Place, said President Phil Shugart. The company makes automated blood chemistry analyzers. One can conduct up to 40 tests from one sample.

The company has a number of machines in development, some aimed at physician offices, some at small hospitals, some at commercial labs. They also are developing a toxicology system that will detect 22 drugs of abuse.

Nancy Johnston, executive director of the Piedmont Triad office of the N.C. Biotechnology Center, said “One of our goals is to grow jobs,” and one of the ways they do that is helping to commercialize new technologies developed at the research parks.

The schools have been concerned about the time that start-up companies spend raising money to keep going. Abraham said Wake Forest is developing an “accelerator” so the companies can focus on technology development rather than raising money.

Now, most inventions are commercialized through licensing to other companies, which often means the innovation, and the jobs it creates, go elsewhere. With the accelerator, it is hoped that most new jobs will stay in Winston-Salem, he said.

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