For all of us at the Research Triangle Park, 2014 was one wild ride. It started with the purchase of the Park Center property early in the year, and never slowed down. We won national grants, grew our programming, saw startup successes, had companies decide to locate within RTP and launched a new website throughout all of it! (We didn’t include the new RTP.org on the list, as it was pretty obvious.) So, let us know what you think, and cheers to 2015!
1 – Purchase of Park Center to kickoff RTP Master Plan Development.
On February 3rd, 2014 we held a historic announcement at RTP HQ to announce our purchase of 100 acres at the site known as Park Center in Research Triangle Park. The land sale was something our CEO Bob Geolas called a “late Christmas gift,” and allowed us the ability to start work on our redevelopment plan immediately. The Park Center site was always identified the RTP Master Plan as a location for development, but it was originally outlined as “Phase II,” with Phase I being located more towards the intersection of Miami Boulevard and Cornwallis Road.
Park Center signaled a new day for RTP’s redevelopment, and allowed us to kick the effort into high gear. With the support and leadership of the Research Triangle Foundation Board of Directors, and our partnership with developer Hines and architects Duda Paine, we now have a full master plan for the 100 acre site less than a year later. And, in January we will unveil our first project at Park Center – The Frontier. It’s ambitious, and our entire team could not be more exited to embark on this open innovation concept.
Surely 2015 will be just as exciting as 2014 when it comes to developments not only at The Frontier, but also Park Center as a whole!
2 – Winning the US2020 STEM Mentoring Grant at the White House Science Fair
This project was truly a labor of love led by our Director of Programs, Lisa Jemison (and actual labor, as Lisa had a baby this year!). US2020 was established after President Obama expressed interest in finding a way for more girls and underrepresented minorities to be exposed to STEM careers. The goal of the project is to increase mentorship by STEM professionals by 20 percent by the year 2020.
In RTP, the US2020 grant application alone was no easy feat to pull off, but Lisa did a wonderful job of emphasizing all the strengths that make the Research Triangle Park the unique entity it is. In fact, we were the only awardee that was not an actual municipality. Instead, our grant package was built upon a base of collaboration between RTP companies, area non-profit partners and Durham and Wake County School Systems. The collaboration of these groups to pull together the grant package led to an award at the White House of $200,000 in cash and prizes, 3 full time VISTAS in RTP and a bevy of other pro bono services.
To check out some of the work that’s being done, head on over to the RTP blog. One of our US2020 VISTAS, Hannah Strom, has written some killer partner profiles highlighting how the work being done by US2020 will directly impact the Triangle community.
3 – Lenovo and Novozymes come to RTP.
Novozymes barely slid onto this list, but the news broke on December 22nd that they decided to locate in RTP so we were excited to be able to include them! The company will be bringing 100 employees into RTP, and that’s definitely something to celebrate!
Lenovo is also once again in RTP after acquiring IBM’s low end server unit, and we couldn’t be happier about it! When the deal went through, the computer giant essentially doubled their presence across North Carolina. That’s a pretty big deal! They now have close to 2,000 employees at a site that was once occupied by Ericsson off of Davis Drive.
4 – Our startup success continues.
One little known RTP fact is that 60 percent of our companies have 25 employees or less. Yes! Many people have heard of our corporate giants, but there are five incubator spaces throughout the Park that each house multiple companies. Every year we find that sector is growing inside RTP, and it’s a trend that can also be seen across the region.
This is why our organization continued to support places like American Underground, HQ Raleigh and LAUNCH Chapel Hill throughout 2014. At Google Demo Day, American Underground had two companies, Windsor Circle and Automated Insights, bring home prizes from the Silicon Valley showdown. HQ Raleigh just announced another expansion, this time outside of Raleigh and over to the Triad in Greensboro. And, our partnership to share the Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups with LAUNCH continues on into its second year.
We also just concluded a new master plan for the life science incubator that we own on T.W. Alexander Drive. Now called The Lab, the site formerly known as Park Research Center houses 24 companies working on a range of products and discoveries. One company, AgBiome, has received investment backing from ag giants and will be doubling their site footprint on The Lab campus. Be on the lookout for big changes to the site in 2015!
5 – We had our biggest RTP 180 ever.
Over the summer months of 2014, we saw our two largest RTP 180s ever. With checkins totaling over 250, we’re not even exactly sure how many people were there because of how many we let in because of their smile and the “I was on the waitlist” plea. All we know, as that we ran out of craft beer and were biting our nails that we wouldn’t also run out of food!
But, this program has continued to grow and we’re happy to keep putting it on. Each month we see many new faces, and get to show off the wonderful work being done at our area universities, RTP companies and community members at-large. Until we run out of fantastic stories to share, we’ll keep holding them on the third Thursday of the month!
There is one major change in store for RTP 180 during 2015 – the location! From now on it will be at The Frontier, 800 Park Offices Drive still in RTP.