This has been an incredible week for the Research Triangle Region, Raleigh, and NC State University. Here are a couple more quick thoughts . . .
The President announced the creation of the new Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute to be led by NC State University. The Institute will focus on wide bandgap semiconductors. Learn more about this technology here. As the US Department of Energy notes:
WBG (Wide bandgap) semiconductors operate at high temperatures, frequencies and voltages -- all helping to eliminate up to 90 percent of the power losses in electricity conversion compared to current technology. This in turn means that power electronics can be smaller because they need fewer semiconductor chips, and the technologies that rely on power electronics -- like electric vehicle chargers, consumer appliances and LEDs -- will perform better, be more efficient and cost less.
The thing that strikes me about this announcement is that it is built upon the strengths of our community.
Smart Grid Industry Leadership. Raleigh and the Research Triangle are global hubs for smart grid and cleantech innovation. (Something I’ve experienced firsthand traveling around the US and abroad.) We have a diverse group of companies in this space that operate across the smart grid value chain. From vertically integrated multinationals to entrepreneurs, we’ve got it. Check out Smart Grid: Core Firms in the Research Triangle Region, NC.
Unmatched University & Community College Assets. As Chancellor Woodson noted in his introduction of President Obama, “No one in the world knows this emerging technology better than NC State.” Our region is home to three tier 1 research universities within 30 miles of each other – the only place in the US that can say that. We are also home to nine other colleges and the best community college system in the country. Its these assets that are educating the next generation of engineers, designers, and technologists that will feed the innovation on which the Institute will focus.
Partnerships. The Institute is a consortium – a partnership – of universities, federal and state government, and industry. Around here we call that the Triple Helix. Its something we are known for around the world. And with good reason! It’s the Research Triangle Park, it’s Centennial Campus, it’s who we are, it’s in our DNA! For leading a complex system of partnerships, there is probably not better place than right here.
People. It’s always the people that drive innovation. Its students, faculty, and staff at universities; collaborative, cross-functional teams within companies; and multi-firm partnerships. We have the people power to solve the world’s energy questions.
For the past three years, Wake County Economic Development has been telling the story of our leadership position in smart grid. Today, we are excited that another new chapter is being written.