Raleigh, N.C. — City leaders and North Carolina State University are teaming up to create a “unified vision” for developing Raleigh as an “Innovation Center.”
With Durham having firmly established itself as the Triangle’s hub for new and emerging companies through a variety of efforts focused on entrepreneurs, Raleigh is attempting to get in on the development game.
A first step is an “Innovation Summit,” which is set for the Raleigh Convention Center on Jan. 18, 2012. The one-day program is being put on by the city, N.C. State, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Raleigh Economic Development and Wake County Economic Development. Sponsors include Rex Healthcare, the Poyner & Spruill law firm, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and Springboard, which is N.C. State's innovation initiative.
Durham already offers such programs as the “Startup Stampede,” Bull City Forward and The American Underground at the American Tobacco Historic District. The Underground hosts a variety of startup firms. A new technology accelerator will open next spring called Groundwork Labs.
In Raleigh, N.C. State is helping take the lead to pursue possible initiatives targeting entrepreneurs and new ventures.
“Numerous groups are interested in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, but we recognized that someone needed to focus on a plan of action,” Terri Lomax, N.C. State's vice chancellor of research, innovation and economic development, said in a statement. “The university and its partners are committed to building a City of Innovation that will help define Raleigh’s economic future. This is the first step.”
Four key points to be addressed at the summit are:
- Creating an Innovation Center in Raleigh to meet the needs of local entrepreneurs
- Branding Raleigh as a City of Innovation
- Creating partnerships between N.C. State and Raleigh
- Attracting more money to the region from angel investors venture capitalists to invest in startups
Miles Wright, chief executive of Xanofi Inc., said forming a technology hub would benefit all local startups. Xanofi, which was formed about a year ago and is looking to expand, uses N.C. State technology to create products out of nanofibers.
"We don't do what we do in a bubble," Wright said. "We have to connect to products and markets and to funders to banks and CPAs and all the parts of this community, so our ability to be successful is directly tied to this community."
Mayor Charles Meeker compared the effort to the formation of Research Triangle Park in the 1950s and 1960s.
“The unifying catalyst of RTP ignited the flame of prosperity and progress that has been growing here ever since,” Meeker said in a statement. “North Carolina State University is as well equipped to lead today’s age of innovation as any university I know of. The creation of this City of Innovation initiative, with NCSU’s leadership, can well be the unifying catalyst for the coming 50 years.”