North Carolina's Research Triangle


North Carolina's Research Triangle - situated between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill - is one of the most prominent research and development centers in the United States anchored by a mixture of high-tech start-ups; global Fortune 100 companies such as IBM, Cisco, Cree, and Sony Ericsson; and cutting-edge research institutions including Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. This thriving hub of innovation is home to more than a dozen pioneering industries including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, clean technology, and information technology.

Credit: Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau

The "Triangle" name originally referred to the region's universities whose research facilities and highly-educated workforce served as a major attraction for businesses. Building upon that foundation, state and local governments teamed up with the universities and local business to construct Research Triangle Park (RTP) in 1959. Since then, RTP and the surrounding industries have created a culture of scientific advancement and competitive excellence further cementing the Tar Heel State's reputation as a conduit for innovation.

©2011 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Dan Sears)

2,636 patents were issued to entities in North Carolina in 2010, the bulk of which centered in areas of technology, communications, biotech and pharmaceuticals. Private industries and universities within the Research Triangle have effectively leveraged the patent system to expand their businesses, spur growth and hiring throughout the region, and help lead the way for American innovation.

Bioptigen, a spin-out of the Duke University Biomedical Engineering Department, has commercialized their intellectual property (IP) to build a state of the art imaging system that gives a clearer and more medically accurate read on degenerative tissue disorders. Their technologies have taken advantage of the USPTO and federal research and development (R&D) grants to build techniques that map the trajectory of potential tissue failure before it happens. Bioptigen has garnered 45 patents and received critical grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which have helped the company to advance genetic research and maximize their patent-protected technology by exploring new therapeutic and economic opportunities in the field of biomedicine.

Another North Carolina company that is transforming the biotechnology industry is Medicago which uses proprietary technologies to build cost effective and fast-acting vaccines by honing in on the genetic sequence of a bacterium strain. The accelerated time frame for these vaccines to target the core genetic material of a virus is so accelerated that in instances ranging from a common flu outbreak to a larger pandemic threat, vaccine shipments can be deployed to community clinics and states at a much faster rate than ever before. With clinical testing facilities in Research Triangle Park this state-of-the-art company is maximizing its patented nanotechnology to produce more than 40 million doses to treat seasonal flus and improve the health of Americans everywhere.

©RTI International

Nextreme Thermal Solutions
Durham-based Nextreme Thermal Solutions is pioneering micro-scale thermal and power generation solutions by using patented temperature management technologies to cool commonly used devices like cell phones, computer chips, and TV screens, which are all prone to overheating. RTI International spun-out Nextreme in December 2004 to commercialize its "thinfilm thermoelectric technology." This small company with just 25 employees has amassed a portfolio of 30 patents (pending and provisional) and maintains the only commercial thin-film thermoelectric manufacturing facility in the United States. Their micro-scale management products provide a boon to the semiconductor industry and help to increase the efficiency of energy-wasteful products from wireless devices to automobiles.

OptoCooler™ HV14 ©Nextreme Thermal Solutions

By combining the strengths and synergies between the state's academic, government, and industry base, North Carolina's Research Triangle has provided the infrastructure and highly-educated work force necessary to attract ground-breaking research and development operations from across the globe.