Research Triangle Region, N.C. – Five years ago, virtually no one knew cleantech existed in the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, but today it is recognized as a global cleantech hot spot, Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) Chairman Ed White reported to the cluster network Thursday at its annual meeting.
“This cluster, which has been literally decades in the making, positions our region and our companies to capture much of the estimated $4.8 trillion market estimated to develop over the next 10 years,” said White, chairman and CEO of Field2Base. “That’s why we believe cleantech will drive the next wave of economic and job growth in this region, as did information technology and life sciences in the past.”
The region’s cleantech sector is growing rapidly, White said. Regional cleantech company investments from July 2009 to June 2014 created 10,500 jobs and $1.29 billion in recurring economic impact.
A new interactive Metrics Dashboard launched by the RTCC in June captures that impact as well as key metrics – jobs created, patents issued, capital investments and venture funding – that will hold the organization accountable to its investors, said White.
The RTCC formed three years ago with industry funding to accelerate the region’s cleantech economy. It identified the region’s core strengths of smart grid, smart water and smart transportation. In the past year, the RTCC launched a two-year strategic plan to market the region’s assets and promote innovation, partnerships and job growth.
RTCC staff at the annual meeting reported on key results from the past year on the organization’s three strategies:
- Marketing and Branding – RTCC generated more than $700,000 in media coverage from an international press tour and aggressive marketing campaign and launched an interactive website and social media tools to market the cluster and support connections among its members.
- Business Growth – Cleantech companies in the region announced $128 million in new locations and expansions, creating nearly 100 jobs. Staff worked with nine prospects that are seeking a location to expand. The RTCC also completed an energy and technology industry talent survey that identified the talent needs and skill sets they require for the future.
- Community and Industry Engagement – The RTCC recruited seven new investors for a total of 31, placed dozens of cluster members in speaking engagements around the world, and hosted or advised more than 40 industry events, helping position regional companies, experts and the region globally as cleantech thought and market leaders.
In the coming year, the RTCC will add several key initiatives to advance each of those strategies:
- Conduct a new study to identify how the region’s cleantech assets can influence and propel Advanced Industries, Smart Cities and Internet of Things, three areas of significant opportunity the region is well positioned to pursue.
- Turn knowledge gained in the Talent Survey into an action plan for attracting and retaining the talent regional cleantech companies need to compete and grow.
- Team with DistribuTECH, the nation’s largest smart grid conference, to raise the profile of the region and its cleantech companies with the utility industry by creating a strong regional presence at DistribuTECH's February conference.
- Link cleantech innovators with Chatham Park, the 7,500-acre live, work and play community under development in Chatham County as a global smart community model.
The RTCC’s annual report is available online at www.researchtrianglecleantech.org/2015Report.
Also at the annual meeting, the RTCC introduced its first new executive director, Jennifer Bosser, former assistant executive director for Wake County Economic Development, who begins work Sept. 1. The RTCC recognized RTCC Managing Director Lee Anne Nance’s contributions over the past three years to create and grow the cluster organization. Nance, who has served half time as executive vice president of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), becomes RTRP's full-time chief operations officer on Oct. 1. She remains a RTCC advisor. RTRP formed and manages the RTCC.
RTCC board member Tim Fairchild, director of SAS’s Global Energy Practice, reminded cluster network members that the organization is an industry-led, industry-financed initiative.
“Our goals are ambitious, the market potential is significant, and we need more companies and partners to invest,” Fairchild said. “All that you’ve heard about today and all that we plan to do in the future is possible because we, as business people, recognize the unlimited market potential of this emerging industry and realize that all of us have a greater chance of capturing that opportunity if we work together.”