News

Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster Recruits Partners


December 17, 2012

Research Triangle Region, N.C. – The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) hosted its first cluster-wide meeting Dec. 7, briefing more than 70 business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders on its cluster expansion plans and recruiting partners to implement them.

“This is a hot space. Cleantech is the most significant emerging cluster we have in the region today,” said Ed White, chairman/CEO of Field2Base, chairman of the RTCC advisory board and a founding member of the RTCC board of directors. “Over the next 10 years, a lot of money is going to be spent modernizing the electric power distribution network. The Research Triangle Region is in a unique position to capitalize and profit from that investment. ”

Cleantech is one of 11 clusters targeted for business development by the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), which leads economic development strategy for the 13-county Research Triangle Region of North Carolina. The cluster includes more than 500 companies, a critical mass of researchers and a host of support organizations that promote its growth, particularly in the areas of smart grid, advanced transportation, water technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiency. RTRP formed RTCC to accelerate the cluster’s growth and the region’s global prominence in this important area of technology and business development.

“We have companies and assets here that other regions can’t match in terms of technology, talent and capability,” White said. “When you add in our government, academic and business partnerships, this area will lead the industry, and talented people and investors want to be a part of the team.”

Board member Mark A. Ascolese, executive chairman of Power Analytics, paused during a networking conversation with a business colleague to explain the benefits he sees from the region’s cluster strategy.

“This fellow’s from Charlotte, he’s in the solar/renewable energy space and he’s chasing an opportunity at a military base on the east coast,” Ascolese said. "The company I represent has proven software that he needs to be able to put in that proposal. So, we’re probably going to team up. This is fundamentally what this is all about – getting people together who are already in the area working together and then leveraging that to bring more people to the area because of the expertise that’s here.”

Ascolese and other RTCC leaders seek to accelerate the cluster’s growth though an industry-funded, industry-driven action plan. In year one, they will map cluster assets, market the cluster globally and recruit members to fund and implement the work plan.

Seven work groups chaired by cluster partners are leading the implementation. They are:

  • Market Intelligence – Christa Wagner Vinson, RTCC marketing and membership manager
  • Policy Education – Steve Kalland, N.C. Solar Center
  • Industry Engagement – Michael Haley, Wake County Economic Development
  • Entrepreneurship – Wade Fulghum, N.C. State University
  • Workforce Development – Stephen Barrington, Capital Area Workforce Development Board
  • Talent Attraction – Vik Rao, Research Triangle Energy Consortium
  • Membership Committee –  Lee Anne Nance, RTCC managing director and RTRP senior vice president

Ten companies have each committed $75,000 over three years to steer and fund the RTCC’s work and serve as board members. They are ABB Inc., Duke Energy, Field2Base Inc., Power Analytics Corp., PowerSecure International, RTI International, SAS, Schneider Electric, Sensus and Siemens. Two board seats remain.

Board member Tim Fairchild, director of SAS’s global utilities practice, said SAS participates because Cleantech holds enormous opportunity for advanced analytics. The Research Triangle Region’s “triple helix” approach to collaboration by business, government and academic partners gives the region a competitive edge over other regions that compete in the space, he said.

“This is a time of transformation and innovation for the electric utility industry,” Fairchild said. “At SAS, we’re focused on innovation, on collaboration with the other members of the RTCC and attracting talent to the area, and we believe strongly in this triple helix model…So it’s just a perfect fit.”

RTCC managing director Lee Anne Nance applauded members for their work over the past two years to envision the cluster’s potential and joining forces to expand it.

“We say it takes a village to raise a cluster. Most of you have played a role in getting us here today. Collaboration is something we in the Research Triangle Region do really well,” Nance said.

For more information on the RTCC, contact Nance at (919) 840-7372 or lnance@researchtriangle.org. For more information on the Research Triangle Region’s Cleantech Cluster, visit www.researchtriangle.org/clusters/cleantech.

RTRP, which manages the RTCC, is a public-private organization that leads economic development for the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, home to Research Triangle Park and the 13 counties of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren. For information, visit www.researchtriangle.org, call (919) 840-7372 or e-mail rtrp@researchtriangle.org

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Contact: Lee Anne Nance, (919) 840-7372