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The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has awarded a $100,000 grant to a consortium coordinated by NCBIO for Phase I planning for a Center of Innovation (COI) in Advanced Medical Technologies.
Universities and regional economic development entities across the state submitted the grant application through NCBIO late last year to fund establishment of an organizational structure and business plan for the new focus on North Carolina's advanced medical technologies sector.
If the resulting plan is completed and approved by the Biotechnology Center within a year, the COI would receive a four-year, $2.5 million Phase 2 grant to begin supporting commercialization of new products and recruitment and expansion of companies developing advanced medical technologies. Terms of the grant require that the COI be self-supporting within five years.
The Biotechnology Center, backed by funding from the General Assembly, started the COI program last year. It's designed to establish research and commercial hubs for products and processes deemed especially well suited to creating biotechnology-related jobs while reflecting the state's regional diversity.
A group of Piedmont Triad institutions received a similar grant from the Biotechnology Center in November to establish the first Center of Innovation, focusing on the emerging field of nanobiotechnology.
The COIs are not envisioned as research campuses. Though each is likely to have a small office to coordinate COI activities among participants, related laboratories and factories are to come from existing infrastructure across the state.
"Each COI demonstrates the exciting possibilities that can come from creative collaborations," said Ken Tindall, senior vice president, Science and Business Development at the Biotechnology Center. "They're the keys opening doors to new business sectors that will provide meaningful job opportunities across North Carolina."
NCBIO's partners in the project include the Charlotte Research Institute, the Duke University Department of Biomedical Engineering, the East Carolina Brody School of Medicine, the Joint School of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and the Wake Forest University Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Technology transfer offices at the partnering academic institutions, as well as representatives of the state's regional economic development partnerships in Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, the Research Triangle and Eastern North Carolina will also participate in the planning process.
A study published by the Biotechnology Center with support from NCBIO last year concluded that North Carolina is home to a growing medical device industry. It recommended that the State seek to capitalize on the economic potential of the sector by supporting the convergence of the classical device industry with complimentary technologies such as biotechnology, information technology, regenerative medicine and nanotechnology.
"NCBIO believes that this proposed Center of Innovation will allow North Carolina to leverage its existing strengths in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and regenerative medicine to propel it to a national leadership position in the advanced medical technologies industry," said NCBIO president Sam Taylor. "With these assets, there is no reason that North Carolina should not achieve the same international prominence in medical technologies that it has attained in biotechnology."
Taylor said NCBIO expects to hire a project coordinator for the planning process.
About North Carolina Biotechnology Center
The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide.
NCBIO is North Carolina’s state-level affiliate of the national Biotechnology Industry Organization. Together the groups advocate federal, state and local public policies to promote economic development, jobs and improved quality of life through the bioscience industry.
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