Tag Archives: rti

Turning World-Class Research into Economic Opportunities

Ahh, English proverbs. Popularly defined as short expressions of popular wisdom that are more widely used to articulate an attitude toward a situation.

  • Ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
  • The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

It was at the N.C. Biotechnology Center yesterday, listening to Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation that inspired me to think even further about the collaborative culture of the Research Triangle Region. Minister Burton characterized Ireland’s trade mission to North Carolina in this wise, poetic way:

  • If you come together, both with an apple, you will have an apple. But, if you come each with something different, then, you really have something to share.

Joining the Minister on the Enterprise Ireland-supported mission were representatives from 60 Irish companies and universities. Highlighting their two-day North Carolina itinerary was a visit to the Research Triangle Park (RTP), characterized by the delegation as one of the world’s top and most vibrant biotech innovation hubs. Throughout the day, representatives from the Triangle’s top universities engaged in discussions themed around turning world-class research into economic opportunities.

Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation visits RTP

While visiting the RTP Headquarters, the Minister also met with leaders from the UCD/RTI Applied Research Center (ARC). ARC is a joint venture between applied research leader, Research Triangle International (RTI) and Ireland’s largest research university, University College Dublin (UCD). Together, the institutes are driving initiatives whose efforts will help address significant global challenges such as health and aging, social and economic well-being, and the environment.

“North Carolina has an exceptional record of creating practical economic opportunities from world-class research,” said Gerry Murphy, Director for North America at Enterprise Ireland. “Your strategy to invest in research, attract the best scientific brains and smartest business operators, and link them with capital represents the gold-standard blueprint for a 21st century knowledge economy. Given the similar ambitions of North Carolina and Ireland in driving the knowledge economy, we see significant scope for ongoing collaboration.”

Some of the most profound discoveries have been influenced by scientists and researchers working in RTP. It is through collaboration and partnership that the spirit of discovery and innovation continues to flourish.

Opportunity is waiting, you need but to open the door.

Sunlight into gasoline? RTI VP says ‘yes’, future looks bright

A lot goes on at RTI International’s campus in RTP: everything from governmental prototypes of democracy in Iraq to cutting-edge chemical engineering and energy research. Dave Myers, RTI’s vice president of the Engineering and Technology Unit (ETU) said the expansive undertakings of the institution enable new scientific discoveries and progress on a regional, national, and global level.

SITT's Sabine Vollmer (left) and RTI VP Dave Myers

“The goal is to be considered to be among the upper echelon of companies making a difference,” Myers said. For his department’s energy programs, it’s vital to stay on top. The federal government only allots grant money to certain research organizations, and stimulus money has been hard to come by. Some of it won’t surface until as late as 2014, and a lot is still being allocated.

However, the state agreed to match Washington’s funds, even amidst its current budgeting crisis. And with new contributions from the Dept. of Energy, money going towards energy research at RTI has doubled since 2007, Myers said.

So what, exactly, is Myers’ team putting the grant money towards? Lots of different projects, but mainly, solar power. However, he isn’t talking about ordinary sun panels making electricity. Myers said his team is mixing sunlight and water to make gasoline.

These solar panels capture heat-waves from the sun and generate hydrogen, which the ETU can add to water and transform into hydrocarbons. Mix that with carbon-dioxide and you get methanol. (Methanol = CH3OH, the chemical synthesis of CO2 and H2.) The methanol is then converted into liquid gasoline, the same kind our cars run on now.

Except it’s cleaner. This gas has fewer harmful emissions and byproducts than conventional oil-based petroleum burning. There’s also far less sulfur. Not to mention, it’s renewable. What’s key, Myers said, is that engine performance will be exactly the same. It maintains an incredibly high energy density, which is the most compelling aspect of gasoline from an engineering standpoint while battery technology for electric cars is still immature.

Other projects his team is working on includes novel LED lighting designs and the “pMUT” (short for Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasound Transducer), a biomedical device that delivers real-time 3D ultrasonic images inside the human body. It has already been found highly beneficial for both cardiac and intravascular operations. No such technology has previously been available to surgeons, which is why the medical community is so excited for its introduction. RTP’s own National Institute of Health (NIH) originally funded the project; now, RTI is partnering with Duke to further development.

-Ross Maloney. Reporting by Sabine Vollmer, for Science in the Triangle. Read her “Inside RTP” feature on Myers’ interview here.

Building a smarter planet through serious gaming

The Triangle Area Research Directors Council (TARDC) is an informal group of scientific leaders from organizations in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina who meet monthly to discuss subjects of interest to the high-impact research community.

The organization was founded in 1974 by George Herbert (then President of RTI International) as a convenient way for leaders of the local research organizations and universities to meet each other and discuss topics of common interest.

The March TARDC program featured speaker Phaedra Boinodiris discussing serious gaming initiatives and technology. Phaedra is a Serious Games Program Manager at IBM where she is helping craft IBM’s serious games strategy in technical training, marketing, and leadership skill building. She is the founder of the award-winning INNOV8program, a series of games that teaches and evangelizes Business Process Management. INNOV8 is being used in over 1000 schools worldwide and is now available for public consumption.

IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign demonstrates how our planet is more interconnected, intelligent and Instrumented than ever before. Technical innovations are being leveraged across industry to revolutionize and optimize businesses, cities, and the environment. How can technology be used to explain the potential of these complex innovations? How can serious games and simulation personalize the experience and lend to a better understanding via personal discovery?

Check out a few video segments of her presentation: TARDC March Program. High quality versions will be available on the RTP YouTube channel shortly.

RTP Week in Review: January 4-8, 2010

Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry smart phones, plans to open a research and development office in Raleigh, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill figure out how to stop infecting bacteria in their tracks and RTI International looks for new business opportunities with the help of a new division and a hire.

Research in Motion Selects the Research Triangle Region

Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry smart phones, confirmed plans to open a research and development office in Raleigh, but provided few details.


The company has long had an eye on the Research Triangle Park area. State documents show RIM filed paperwork to do business in North Carolina in February 2002 and kept it updated. In December, company recruiters interviewed potential hires at an RTP job fair that attracted telecommunications workers who already lost their jobs or fear layoffs. Nortel Networks and IBM have shed many jobs and Sony Ericsson recently announced it would shut down its RTP operations, where more than 400 are employed.

In a response to questions, the company issued a prepared statement that read, “Raleigh is a great fit for RIM given its highly skilled work force and proximity to many excellent academic institutions.”

Last year, RIM reported $11 billion in sales. Analysts expect the company to generate $15 billion in revenue this year.

In other company news:

  • GlaxoSmithKline, the British drugmaker that has its U.S. headquarters in RTP, has decided to finance an educational documentary about eating. GSK makes alli, an over-the-counter pill to lose weight.
  • Speculations that Biogen Idec may prepare to look for a buyer arose after James Mullen, chief executive of the Boston-based biotech company, announced he would step down. Biogen’s multiple sclerosis drugs Avonex and Tysabri are made in RTP.
  • PeopleClick, a Raleigh software company, agreed to be sold for $100 million.

Research at UNC Figure out how Bacteria Walk

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill figured out how some bacteria move around in the body to spread infections. Just one atom makes the difference. The atom plays a key role in how the bacteria grow tiny legs and coordinate their movement.

Blocking the atom stops the roving bacteria in their tracks.

The discovery could lead to the development of new medicines to prevent infections.

RTI International Looks to Expand

RTI International, a large research institute in RTP that snaps up government contracts worth millions, is looking to boost its chances to attract business with the help of a new division and a hire.

Less than a year after buying MasiMax, RTI turned the health communication and marketing firm in Rockville, Md., into a new division. MasiMax employees research and analyze complex health information and translate it for target audiences, such as health professionals, researchers, policymakers or the general public.

RTI also hired Bradley Peganoff as vice president of government and corporate relations. Peganoff  joins RTI from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, where he was in charge of generating revenue, raising policymakers’ awareness of the institute and cultivating academic and industry collaborations.

-Contributed by Sabine Vollmer with Science in the Triangle-

Techie Tuesday & World AIDS Day

Did you know that the Triangle region is a center of excellence in global health?

Anchored by such global health institutes like RTI International, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and the Triangle Global Health Consortium, the region is at the forefront of addressing issues challenging the world’s health. In addition, RTP is the home of several breakthrough technologies, including the discovery of AZT (a key treatment in the fight against HIV/AIDS), Taxol and the Cochlear ear implant.

In recognition of the significant achievements and advancements that have been made in the area of HIV/AIDS by RTP firms over the past 50 years, the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, RTI International, Quarry Integrated Communications, Science in the Triangle, and others will be partnering to develop a special program next month at the RTP Headquarters. Leading up to the event, please look forward to blog postings both here and at Science is Local, covering in-depth interviews with those living with HIV/AIDS and exploring how regional institutes are leading advancements in the global health field.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the region’s expertise in this area and find out how Park companies and stakeholders are making an impact on the HIV/AIDS and other concerns of global health. For additional information on the Techie Tuesday event on December 1, please email events@rtp.org.

Images from past Techie Tuesdays