Triangle Chatter

Cleantech, Meet Manufacturing

Christa Wagner VinsonInnovate, Manufacture, Compete: A Clean Energy Action Plan. That’s the title of a new report out from Pew Charitable Trusts and it struck a chord with us as we work to launch the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster.  By our rough count, this region is home to hundreds of companies engaged in some area of their business in smart grid, advanced transportation, smart water technologies and renewable energy.  These companies and the thousands of people they employ are innovating, manufacturing and competing with their clean technology-related products and services.

We’re excited for their continued success – but concerned that the bottom line of the Pew report wasn’t as promising.  The report concludes that the U.S. lags other nations on clean energy manufacturing and deployment.  According to Pew, if the U.S. doesn’t make necessary policy changes to support clean technology innovation, development and deployment, trillions of dollars will be left on the table.

Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) wants to re-introduce some rosiness to that picture by talking up the area cleantech assets that are setting this region apart.  On February 11th, RTRP will moderate a panel discussion at the Institute for Emerging Issues Forum, @Manufacturing Works.  Three area entrepreneurs plugging in to new markets in cleantech will join RTRP President Charles Hayes Monday afternoon for a breakout session.

Invited panelists include Evatran CEO Rebecca Hough, Strata Solar COO John Morrison, Field2Base Chairman and CEO Ed White and RDU Airport Director Michael Landguth.  Evatran’s Plugless Power, a hands free charging system that’s revolutionizing the electric vehicle market, is also making waves in Raleigh.  Strata Solar perfectly demonstrates the linkages between policy and positive outcomes;  the company has worked with the National Youth Chamber of Commerce and Workforce Development Boards across North Carolina to “build utility scale solar projects in regional clusters so [employees] move from one job to the next creating sustainable, long-term job growth.” Ed White is well-versed in the world of clean energy and technology entrepreneurship in this region as founder of a successful remote-meter reading software company later sold to Itron, a leading supplier of energy information solutions.  Michael Landguth will discuss the role the region’s international airport plays in transporting the fundamental link in the innovation chain: people and their intellectual capital.

We think this region is perfectly poised to rise to the challenge posed by the Pew report.  Join us at the upcoming Emerging Issues Forum to find out more.

Read more: Triangle Chatter blogger Anna Lea Moore points out the many ways that manufacturing is making a difference in communities across the region.

Author: Christa Wagner Vinson, Program Manager, Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster

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