Monthly Archives: June 2011

RTP Takes Employees Out to the Ball Game!

RTP employees enjoyed an evening of food, beverages and baseball at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park last Monday, courtesy of The Research Triangle Park.   A great opportunity to kick back and socialize with RTP neighbors and friends, this annual event is offered absolutely free to members of the Park business community.  Wool E Bull took the stage in creating a sponsorship video highlighting RTP companies while the RTP Softball League added to the entertainment between innings in a Tug of War contest on the field.  The Bulls overtook the Buffalo Bisons  2-1.


Speaking of the RTP Softball League, did you know the League currently boasts over 800 members and 48 teams, with 16 of the winning teams playing in the RTP World Series at the Durham Bulls ballpark in the fall?  RTP maintains five softball fields for League practices and games.  Just one more way to enjoy Park life

In addition to social outings like the Durham Bulls game, the RTP hosts other networking and topic related events throughout the year for the RTP community through its new GetConnected@rtp program.   To Get Connected to our event notification list, please forward your name and RTP email address.   We will let you know about upcoming events including the next time we batter up!

Challenge, Commit, Change

The SmartCommute Challenge wrapped up on June 1st, and with 8,630 participants saving over 1 million commuter miles, Triangle residents that took the challenge can be proud to say they contributed to something wonderful.

Driving alone has high costs, both obvious and hidden. For the driver, there are the obvious costs of gas, auto maintenance and insurance, but also the hidden costs of stress and less exercise. For the community, there are the monetary costs of our roadway infrastructure, but also the costs of increased local air pollution, high CO2 emissions, and dependence on foreign oil.  For each one of us, driving alone every day can undermine our own quality of daily life. Added together, our driving habits threaten to decrease the Triangle’s quality of life. But there is a solution – Smart Commuting!

This year’s SmartCommute Challenge, coordinated by GoTriangle and SmartCommute@rtp, encouraged people to try a commute alternative —teleworking, carpooling, vanpooling, taking the bus, biking or walking— at least once between April 1 and June 1, 2011. The Challenge was open to employees and college students who live, work, or attend school in Durham, Orange, and Wake counties.  Participants were eligible to win prizes – this year, the SmartCommute Challenge is giving away over $10,000 in prizes! And once again, we made a big difference! When we followed up with participants after the Challenge ended, 96% reported following through on their pledges, and two-thirds of those were willing to continue SmartCommuting at least once a week! Thank you to all of the sponsors and participating employers who made the 2011 Challenge possible, and thanks to everyone who took the challenge this year!

Finally, here are some quick stats to show just how much of difference our SmartCommuters made.

  • Miles Saved: 1,132,054.8 – The equivalent of about 5 trips to the moon
  • Gallons of Gasoline Saved: 50,313.5 – Enough to fill 1,006 bathtubs
  • Pounds CO2 Saved: 1,006,271 – The weight of 335 female hippos
  • Pounds of nitrogen oxide air pollutants (NOX) saved: 2,768.6 – The average weight of 15 adult Americans
  • Pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOC) saved: 3,315.8 – The weight of 121 gold bars

Great job, Triangle!  We’ll be celebrating our success, recognizing our photo and video contest winners, and honoring some very special commuters at the Golden Modes on July 8thRSVP for the event here.

And remember, even though the SmartCommute Challenge is over, it’s never too late to try a smart commute.  RTP employees should visit for more information on ways to get started.

Syngenta’s Groundbreaking Impact

Dawn McNamara breaks ground on Syngenta's new R&D complex

9 billion people.

That’s the number fueling Syngenta Biotechnology’s passion and commitment. By the year 2050, its projected that global population will increase to more than 9 billion people from about 6.5 billion today.  That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

“The significance of this event is worldwide, because it will help raise the living standard for the 35 percent of the world population that makes it living from agriculture,” exclaimed Congressman Price on the $70 million expansion of Syngenta’s operations in the Research Triangle Park.

Read more »

Marketing Mondays: Lessons in Commercialization

At Marketing Mondays on June 20, Jarrod Hamilton of CMG Partners presented on Marketing Strategy in New Product Planning.

Did you know that approximately half of the products that Apple has launched have failed?  Did you know that the iPhone was Apple’s third attempt at a smartphone? Ever heard of the Apple Newton, Pippin or Quick Take?  These products all failed.  Even good products introduced by credible brands can fail in the marketplace.  Credibility, awareness and perception of the company are all driving factors in the success or failure of a product.  Read more »

Enhancing US Competitiveness

President Obama’s Council on Jobs & Competitiveness visited the Research Triangle region last week. In addition to touring Cree’s manufacturing facilities, the Council had five listening sessions in the region and met as a full council for the second time.

Below is a compilation of links compiled by the Jobs Council to other agencies/initiatives working on issues related to increasing US competitiveness:

  • Change the Equation: Change the Equation is a non-profit, non-partisan CEO-led initiative to solve America’s innovation problem. It answers the call of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate Campaign to move the U.S. to the top of the pack in science and math education over the next decade.
  • U.S.- International Dialogue on Women in STEM: President Obama has made clear that as part of his commitment to “restore science to its rightful place” the United States needs to do more to engage young people and underrepresented groups in the pursuit of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers.
  • Mentoring Our Future Generation of STEM Professionals: The STEM Programs works to ensure American competitiveness by promoting the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
  • Better Building Initiative: President Obama’s Plan to Win the Future by Making American Businesses More Energy Efficient through the “Better Buildings Initiative.” The Better Buildings Initiative promotes investments in clean energy technologies.
  • Smart Grid Technology Framework for the 21st Century Grid: This policy framework describes the goals of the Obama Administration in meeting consumers’ energy needs, incentivizing renewable energy, and improving grid security. (Similarly, the N&O ran a story on NCSU’s research in the area).
  • Startup America: The Startup America initiative connects entrepreneurs with successful businesses, opens up $2 billion in seed capital for emerging companies in fields of strategic importance, and aims to simplify tax policy.  A coalition of businesses led by AOL founder Steve Case has responded to the Administration’s effort with the private Startup America Partnership.  The Partnership held a meeting in Durham earlier this year. (Here’s a great blog post by Geomagic on the visit.)
  • US Small Business Administration: The US Small Business Administrationprovides loans to establish a new business or to assist in the acquisition, operation, or expansion of an existing business. The SBA also provides customized counseling services for businesses through its Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs).
  • Small Business Financing: The US Treasury has a variety of programs to help finance small business development.  The Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF) will provide up to $30 billion in capital to targeted lenders with assets of less than $10 billion and is structured to incentivize small business lending.  The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) will spur up to $15 billion in lending by strengthening innovative state programs that support private sector lending to small businesses.
  • Skills for America’s Future: President Obama created this initiative to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and ensure that America’s community college students are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the workforce.
  • The National Advisory Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship (NACIE): NACIE has been charged by Secretary Locke to identify and recommend ways we as a nation remain the source and home of paradigm changing innovations and the companies that deploy them. NACIE will offer policy recommendations that facilitate economic growth through entrepreneurial activity, the commercialization of new ideas and technologies into high-growth, innovation-based businesses, and job creation. It also serves as a vehicle for ongoing dialogue with the entrepreneurship community and other stakeholders. (RTP’s Geomagic CEO Ping Fu and UNC-CH’s Chancellor Holden Thorp serve on the Council.)

History of RTP

Have you ever wondered who founded RTP? Who owns RTP?  And how was it funded?

If you are not a Triangle area native like me, I’m sure you have.  When I moved to the Triangle area last summer, I knew of the famous Research Triangle Park.  But, I didn’t know the history, the innovations that have risen out of companies located in RTP, or the fact that what made it unique at the time of conception was that it was a public-private partnership.

The UNC-TV documentary, North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park: An Investment in the Future, was produced to commemorate RTP’s 40th anniversary in 1999 and does a wonderful job of detailing the history of RTP.  It was produced by Chapel Hill based documentary filmmaker  John Wilson and narrated by Carl Kasell of NPR News.

The documentary does a great job telling the story of RTP and we would encourage anyone interested to watch, but for those of you that don’t have the time to watch the entire hour long video, I’ve broken it down so you can watch the sections you are interested in or skip to the areas where you have questions.

Introduction/Creation of the Park (0-6:33)

  • Post World War II, North Carolina was one of the poorest states due to struggling farming, textile, tobacco industries – low paying jobs that weren’t sufficient to keep the young people at home.
  • Leaders realized that this area had a wealth of brain power – people who could think for a living, had a vision of what the future could be. 
  • Governor Jim Hunt on RTP’s secret to success: “The secret is not a piece of land, it’s relationships between those people who teach, those people who do research, and those of us in government who need to support them.”
  • Today, RTP is:
    • The largest planned research park in the world.
    • Birthplace of a range of discoveries & products with global impact.  From AZT to Zantac, astro-turf to the bar code scanner.
    • Home to 3 Nobel prize winning scientists. (To date, RTP is home to 4 Nobel prize winners: Oliver Smithies won the Nobel prize in 2007)
    • The Research Triangle Park transformed NC’s economic landscape: RTP is “the most important single thing that has taken place in the state this century.”

A Grand Dream (6:34-18:21)

  • 1954: Romeo Guest coins the term Research Triangle, begins to drum up support for the Research Triangle. 
  • Guest presented the concept to Governor Luther Hodges in late 1954. 
  • Hodges brought in Robert Hanes (President of Wachovia at the time)  to head up the Research Triangle Development Council and endorsed Guest’s idea.
  • 1956: UNC Sociology Professor George Simpson becomes Executive Secretary for the Research Triangle Development Council.  Proposed cooperative research centers that could combine the strengths of the region’s universities. “If Governor Hodges was the heart of the Triangle, Simpson became the brain.”
  • Simpson then created a sales team of local professors to pitch the idea of the Research Triangle to companies across the country.
  • “The Research Triangle Park effort could not have been better timed.”
    • Sunbelt phenomenom – influx of business & industry into Southern states
    • Intensification of Cold War increased demand for scientific man power

L to R: Pearson H. Stewart, unidentified Durham city official, George L. Simpson Jr.; Romeo H. Guest, Jr.; George Watts Hill at an early planning meeting about RTP in 1958

Scrub Pine & Possums (8:21-25:36)

  • Carl Robbins, a retired NC textiles magnet, agreed to invest $1M for land near RDU. He purposefully kept a low profile so as not to drive up the prices on worn out farm land that one local described as, “nothing but scrub pine & possums.”
  • Governor Hodges announced plans for Research Triangle on September 10, 1957
  • By early 1958, 4000 acres crossing two counties had been purchased at an average price of $175/acre.
  • Without investors, the Research Triangle Park almost failed in the summer of 1958. 
  • Archie Davis, Chairman of Wachovia Bank, took the charge to sell land and changed the Park to a non-profit designation. “It was the pivotal day, everyone was on the team then.”
  • In September 1958, Davis began meetings with potential contributors.  A very persuasive businessman, he exceeded his fundraising goal by Christmas.  Many of the donors were friends of Robert Haynes, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Archie Raised $1,481,000.
    • Money used for 3 purposes: (1)Pass control of the land to the new, non-profit, Research Triangle Foundation; (2) Establish the Research Triangle Institute; and (3) Construct a building to house the Research Triangle Institute.  The Hanes family raised  $300,000 to name the building in honor of Robert Hanes, who subsequently passed away 2 months later.

IBM groundbreaking in 1965

Two Anchors (25:36-29:58)

  • In December 1958, Gertude Cox, Founder of the Joint UNC/NC State Institute of Statistics agreed to bring her organization to Research Triangle Institute.  Durham banker George Watts-Hill was named Chairman of RTI, and he named George Herbert as the President.  Mr. Herbert had RTI operating profitably within 2 years.
  • Chemstrand opened a large research facility in 1960. “The coming of Chemstrand gave credibility to Research Triangle Park, as did the startup and success of Research Triangle Institute.”  These were the two anchors for a long time. 
  • However, the momentum came to a halt in the early 1960s as RTP struggled to gain tenants.

Black Ink (29:59-34:21)

  • In January 1965, it was announced that RTP had been selected for the US Environmental Health Center (known today as NIEHS)
  • 3 months after the NIEHS announcement, IBM announced the opening of a research facility on 400 acres in RTP
  • IBM’s land purchase allowed the Research Triangle Foundation to pay off its mortgage. 
  • “The arrivals of NIEHS and IBM confirmed RTP’s success.”

A Different World (34:22-42:50)

  • 1970: Burroughs Wellcome relocated their company headquarters to North Carolina due to the competitive advantages of lower priced land, building & labor.
  • 1971: US Environmental Protection Agency established a presence in the Research Triangle.
  • 1973: Becton Dickinson, a manufacturer of medical instrumentation and healthcare products dedicated a major research center
  • Early 1980s: Rhone Poulenc, Novartis, and BASF came to the Park
  • 1983: Glaxo opened one of the largest pharmaceutical centers in the nation in RTP
  • 1981: NC Biotech Center became the first state supported initiative in biotech in the nation

A Permanent Home (42:50 –48:37)

  • Research Triangle Institute continues to be a symbol of the unique cooperation between the three universities and has become one of the world’s premier research institutes.
  • In order to give the three universities a permanent home in RTP, the Research Triangle Foundation donated 120 acres in 1975 to the Triangle University Center for Advanced Studies Incorporated (TUCASI). 
  • Cisco Systems came to RTP in 1995

Research Triangle Park Headquarters today

Staying at Home (48:38-52:06)

  • Today, RTP companies spend billions of dollars annually on manufacturing, services, and payroll.
  • “The Research Triangle Park deserves most of the credit for changing the North Carolina economic mix.”
  • Young people who might have migrated north or to California looking for jobs are now able to stay home and make a contribution to North Carolina.
  • Park Research Center and First Flight Venture Center make RTP more accessible to young companies.
  • Since 1970, the Triangle has given birth to over 300 technology companies, creating more than 20,000 new jobs.
  • “There’s nothing better you can do than develop a very close, working relationship with the brightest minds on college and university campuses. That’s the key to the university research park and we learned it all from the Research Triangle Park.”

Back to Work (52:07-end)

  • We need to now plan a pattern of growth for the Park with a focus on transportation, education, and healthcare.
  • Since much of the appeal of locating in North Carolina is the quality of life, RTP companies have vigorously supported measures to improve public education, healthcare, the arts, and transportation. 
  • “The Triangle is just now in a position in its maturation to do what it was conceived of.  It’s a glorious tribute to the spirit of people who banded together and it made our state different, and that’s why it has enjoyed all of these wonderful years of economic growth.”

For more information on Research Triangle Park since the time this video was produced, visit

For information on the future of RTP & the Master Plan, visit:

Celebrating 100 Years of Innovation and Impact. Happy Birthday IBM.

100 years ago three companies merged to become what is now IBM. Big Blue. Many astounding technological innovations have revolutionized the way people live and work. Through much more than the power of computing, IBM inventions have contributed to the creation of the U.S. Social Security System, putting a man on the moon, the automated international test scoring machine (yes, fill-in-the-bubble, that was them!), inventing UPC codes and bar code scanning technology, driving online banking, the technology that enables LASIK surgery, and computerized airline reservation systems. Oh there’s more… plenty more.

Watch this. The film features one hundred people, who each present the IBM achievement recorded in the year they were born. The film chronology flows from the oldest person to the youngest, offering a whirlwind history of the company and culminating with its prospects for the future. Get ready to be inspired.


Check out IBM’s commemorative website, IBM100.

Woven into the fabric of innovation here at the Research Triangle Park is IBM. In the mid-1960s, IBM announced its plans for a 400-acre, 600,000 square foot research facility in RTP. And they’ve been a driving force in this region ever since. Read more »

The Science of Start-ups

On the heels of President Obama’s and the White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council’s visit to the RTP and the Triangle region, it struck me as I listened in on the entrepreneurship and innovation/biotechnology sessions with corporate executives: one thing is clear, access to capital is critical. And investors aren’t investing. And if they are, they’re difficult to find.

To Ted Zoller of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flager School of Business and Director for the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, creating new jobs and companies goes beyond great ideas and ample capital.

“If we’re able to figure out where the opportunities lie and use networking as a tool, that will broaden the ability to focus each venture to the group of people that would best positioned to support that venture through success,” said Zoller.

His research relates to entrepreneurial networks. Dealmakers, as Zoller defines, are investors who have equity in three or more companies concurrently, are an part of the critical catalyst to bring entrepreneurs and investors together. Read more »

Showing off “Research” in the Research Triangle

At the speech at CREE

Over the last 36 hours, the Research Triangle Region has been abuzz with the visit by President Obama and his Council on Jobs & Competitiveness. While his speech and the meeting with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness were the culmination of the visit, a number of roundtables and site visits were held throughout the Research Triangle to tell the region’s story to Council members and staff.  

In addition to showcasing our region as a model for innovation and competitiveness, the “listening sessions” were an opportunity to share ideas of how the Federal Government can make the task of job creation easier on companies and share success stories of what’s working in our region.

At Centennial Campus (via NCSU's Flickr page)

One group looked at entrepreneurship and was able to tour the unique vibe and atmosphere that has been created at the American Tobacco Campus’ Underground. Another visited NC Central University and discussed workforce development issues. Yet another went to the FREEDM Center at NC State’s Centennial Campus and heard how the region and state is leading the way in clean-tech and smart-grid technology. And finally, two groups visited the R&D and manufacturing facilities at DuPont and Biogen Idec in RTP and discussed the challenges to R&D, biotechnology, and innovation.

And if that weren’t enough to absorb in such a short time period, members of the Council and staff who arrived Sunday were able to meet with a group representing North Carolina’s burgeoning “fourth sector” — for benefit entities that are creating jobs and doing so in a ways that strengthen our community and protect our resources; attend the Durham Bulls game; and meet a cross section of the region’s innovators and entrepreneurs at a reception at American Tobacco

Miss the fun or need to catch up on all the “listening” sessions? Much of the conversation was captured via Twitter under the hashtags #ObamaRTP, #ObamaCree, #centcampus and/or #jobscouncil. Also check out the White House transcripts and press releases and a host of coverage via @WRAL, @CREE, @newobserver, @TheRTP,  and @crismulder. Finally, thanks to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber, here’s a quick list of the local press & blogs:

Coming to the Neighborhood: Wake Technical Community College

Wake Tech RTP Campus

Over 90 business leaders from across the region gathered at RTP Headquarters this week to hear a presentation on the new campus of Wake Technical Community College. Wake Tech, as we commonly call it, is a thriving institution now preparing to establish their 8th major location which will be on RTP’s doorstep. For a region that prides itself on educational capital, and for an economy that is in need of transformation through workforce development, this couldn’t come at a better time.

Speakers at the presentation included Dr. Stephen Scott, President of Wake Tech, and Jay Smith of O’Brien Atkins Associates, serving as Master Planner. Dr. Scott gave an informative overview of Wake Tech’s network of campuses, emphasizing that it is a rare opportunity to design a new campus from scratch. Although with the college’s burgeoning demand for classes, he has now had that privilege twice in his career as president. Attendance at Wake Tech is over 65,000 students per year. About two-thirds of those students are enrolled in continuing education courses, and around 15,000 already have a bachelors degree or higher. This past fall, there were nearly 10,000 students on waiting lists because the classes they needed were full. Lifelong learning is certainly alive and well!

Dr. Stephen Scott, President of Wake Technical Community College

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In 2008, Wake Tech purchased 86 acres of undeveloped land in Morrisville. The site offers a blank slate for the new RTP campus, oriented towards continuing education and technology training. This strategic location is at the intersection of 540 and NC 54, in the heart of Perimeter Park, and within a 5-10 minute drive for anyone in the Research Triangle Park.

Once developed, Wake Tech will have a greater capacity to partner with corporate clients in RTP and develop customized course offerings for their employees. The attendance and engagement at Tuesday’s event clearly shows the interest on the part of RTP companies in leveraging such partnerships. Donna Rhode, Vice President, Centers of Excellence of Cisco Systems Global Sales Operations, was one of the participants who praised the efforts to connect the local workforce with the development needs of RTP companies. As she points out, a technologically-skilled workforce is a key factor in attracting and retaining companies, here in the Research Triangle Park and across the region.

Donna Rhode, Vice President, Centers of Excellence of Cisco Systems Global Sales Operations

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Although Wake Tech has always been a commuter school, they do pay close attention to designing true campuses. The RTP campus will be no different. The intention is to cluster buildings around gathering spaces, rather than parking lots. Through structured parking and careful land management, the RTP campus will be designed with walkability and community in mind. All facilities will be LEED Certified, as has been Wake Tech’s practice across the board in recent years.

New learning facilities that meet the demand of students and businesses, all in an attractive and sustainable setting. How soon will this get here? Master planning and stakeholder engagement will continue throughout the summer. A bond referendum is expected in Spring or Fall 2012. Dr. Scott’s goal is to hold the first classes at the RTP campus in 2015.

An exciting aspect of Tuesday’s session was the rich and active discussion that followed the core presentation. Attendees offered numerous suggestions on what type of programs should be offered at the Wake Tech RTP campus. Many were in keeping with the strengths of RTP’s industries: Biotechnology, Software, Gaming, Clean Tech. Other ideas were based on locational advantages: Aviation, considering the proximity to RDU; or the resources that the RTP campus itself will offer: Green Building, Ecosystems.

Further discussion revolved around potential facilities and other possible partnerships. Public meeting facilities, for example, were a popular idea for encouraging collaboration among business and education groups. Teacher certification and K-12 enrichment programs would be an excellent means to integrate our educational institutions. And on-site services such as child care, dining and recreation could further enhance the student experience.

Wake Technical Community College will continue to engage students, faculty, local officials and the general public in its master planning process. If you have input of your own for the new campus, whether it concerns campus design or course offerings, be sure to leave your comments below.