The Research Triangle Park is home to more than 200 companies, including IBM,GSK, Syngenta, RTI International, Credit Suisse, and Cisco, that foster a culture of scientific advancement and competitive excellence. RTP is located between three major universities: Duke University in Durham, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Through five decades, the Park still holds to its founders’ aspirations: to generate economic activity, engage the talents of local graduates and citizens and carry North Carolina forward to ever-greater prominence and prosperity.
The Research Triangle Park’s creation remains one of the most transformational public-private partnerships in national history.
In the 1950s, North Carolina was home to a deteriorating economic base rooted in tobacco, furniture manufacturing, small-scale farming and textiles, and had the second-lowest per capita income in the nation. The state’s economic future was uncertain.
But in 1959, a group of the state’s brightest political, business and academic leaders created a new future for North Carolina. Together, they worked to create a more sustainable economic base that would carry North Carolina into the 21st century. Drawing upon the strengths and synergies between North Carolina’s academic, government and industry base they created RTP as a place to attract and grow research and development (R&D) operations.
The vision was to provide a ready physical infrastructure that would attract research oriented companies. The advantage of locating in RTP would be that companies could employ the highly-educated local work force and be proximate to the research being conducted by the state’s research universities.
Since it was established, the Park has witnessed a steady and stable increase in the number of companies and employees. The first official company in the Park was the Research Triangle Institute (today known as RTI International), established by the same leaders who created RTP as a focal point of the power and potential of the research emanating from our region’s three research universities. Coupled with the founding of the Chemstrand campus in 1960, RTP began its transformation into a global center for scientific research and enterprise.
Today, there are more than 170 companies in RTP. The original parcel of land that made up RTP in 1959 consisted of 4,400 acres. Through the years, the Foundation acquired more land, surpassing 5,500 acres by 1979 and totaling nearly 7,000 acres presently. In the same period, the Park’s developed space has increased from only 200,000 square feet in 1960 to more than 22.5 million square feet currently.
More than 39,000 full-time equivalent employees work in RTP with an estimated 10,000 contract workers.
Additionally, RTP has encouraged the creation of several technology parks across the state, including Centennial Campus, Gateway University Research Park, the Charlotte Research Institute, and the Piedmont Triad Research Park.