Report Cites Research Triangle Region as Hotspot for Smart Grid Innovation

Raleigh, N.C. – A report released today by Duke University’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness, touts North Carolina as having one of the highest capacities for smart grid innovation in the country. Defined as the transformation of the electric power system into an “energy internet,” smart grid allows utilities and customers to share information in real time.

With its already existing firms, Tier I research universities, specialized research and development centers, and supportive government and nonprofit agencies, the Research Triangle Region puts North Carolina on the map as a smart grid hotspot. This supportive smart grid infrastructure will be an important selling point for regional economic developers as they lure new firms, jobs, and associated opportunities to our region and state.

The research team conducted an analysis that focused specifically on core smart grid firms and relevant assets in North Carolina, and specifically the 13-county Research Triangle Region. Their research found that the Research Triangle has nearly 60 smart grid firms ranging from power multinationals (ABB, GE, Siemens) and IT titans (Cisco, IBM), to energy giants (Honeywell, Johnson Controls), and small specialty venture (GRIDiant, Plotwatt), collectively employing an estimated 3,000 local people.

The report also addresses North Carolina firms’ leadership role nationally, the state’s exceptional smart grid assets, the Triangle’s wide diversity of smart grid firms, Triangle firms’ specific capabilities across the value chain, and Triangle firms’ positioning in areas of likely future development.
In addition to opportunities associated with economic development, smart grid also offers a host of additional benefits. For example, smart grid will make the outdated U.S. power system more reliable, preventing outages and blackouts, which cost the nation an estimated $150 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Moreover, smart grid could also dramatically reduce energy use and emissions by estimated 525 million metric tons in 2030, according to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The Center’s research was funded by North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) faculty fellows program, and was prepared for the Research Triangle Regional Partnership.

About IEI
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) is a public policy organization dedicated to North Carolina’s future competitiveness. By supporting collaboration among individuals from all sectors and areas of the state, IEI builds an enduring capacity for progress. For more information on IEI’s work, visit

Report: Smart Grid: Core Firms in the Research Triangle Region, NC