The Research Triangle Region of North Carolina is the area within a 60-mile radius of the Research Triangle Park, one of the oldest and largest research parks in the world, in North Carolina near the mid-point of the U.S. East Coast. The “Triangle” refers to the three major research universities – Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – that form the core of our innovation ecosystem.
A critical mass of more than 350 companies, an innovation-based economy, abundant talent and an exceptional quality of life create a cleantech ecosystem where innovation thrives.
Add to that a cluster organization led by global cleantech innovators and it’s easy to see why the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina is the place to be for cleantech.
Critical Mass of Companies
Cleantech emerged as a regional economic development priority in 2009 when we discovered a dense concentration of companies and rich supply of researchers engaged in R&D, particularly in the areas of smart grid, smart water and smart transportation.
At last count, we identified 350 companies developing and supplying technology for the global market or supporting those companies with products, services and expertise.
Our cluster boasts a solid mix of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size firms and startups. We have a high concentration of companies focused on integrating the hardware and software necessary to build intelligent infrastructure, devices and services.
And we’re growing rapidly. The number of smart grid companies alone climbed 60 percent in two years, showing we are both fertile ground for cleantech company formation and a prime location for cleantech companies to connect and innovate.
Business, government and academia forged our region’s innovation-based economy 60 years ago when they leveraged the R&D and talent produced by our three major research universities – Duke University, N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – to create the Research Triangle Park.
Today, that culture of innovation and collaboration drives innovation and growth of our cleantech economy.
We’re home to an expansive number of specialty centers focused on cleantech R&D. They include four smart energy research centers, 17 water research and policy centers, and 16 entrepreneurial support organizations. High-profile demonstration sites offer our companies the opportunity to test and showcase their innovations.
A statewide renewable portfolio standard, tax credits for solar, and investments in research and development allow North Carolina’s clean energy economy to shine.
Talent & Workforce Development
Our workforce of more than 1 million people is highly educated and skilled in areas critical to cleantech development, production and deployment. More than 45 percent of the workforce holds a college degree. Our universities produce 32,000 graduates each year, including a high concentration of engineers and technology graduates.
Our top-ranked community colleges offer degree programs tightly aligned to the needs of our companies as well as customized workforce training program and centers.
Our cluster organization conducts a workforce survey to identify the talent needs of our cleantech companies and collaborates with company HR departments and workforce development agencies to market and recruit talent to the region.
Exceptional Quality of Life
The Research Triangle Region for decades has ranked among the top places to live, work and play, making us a magnet for talent and an easy sell for cleantech-related companies seeking an ideal location to grow.
We’re located halfway between beautiful mountains and white-sand beaches. Our lush green landscape and mild climate with four distinct seasons offer year-round recreation. Cultural offerings abound and the food is to die for. The New York Times even dubbed our region North Carolina’s “axis of cool.”
Dedicated Cluster Organization
Our industry-funded, industry-led coalition of companies, government agencies, academic organizations and nonprofit support centers focus 24-7 on growing our companies and our cleantech economy.
We network regionally to accelerate innovation and network globally to brand and market the region for cleantech investment. We conduct research to identify opportunities and mobilize our members and partners to pursue them.
At the end of the day, everything we do is about job growth, job creation and expanding the critical mass of clean technology companies and assets we have in this region.
Agencies and publications routinely rank the Research Triangle Region among the best places in the world to live, work and play. Here are some recent accolades.
# 2 number of lead firms with smart grid headquarters in the city (Raleigh) - Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness
# 2 concentration of smart grid (NC) - Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness
# 2 2014 Top 10 Solar States - SEIA
# 2 fastest growth of clean economy jobs (Raleigh-Cary, MSA) - Brookings Institute
# 3 in new renewable capacity installations - Pew Charitable Trusts
# 5 in homes powered by solar power - Pew Charitable Trusts
# 8 in energy-and environment related jobs - Pew Charitable Trusts
# 10 share of clean economy jobs (Raleigh-Cary, MSA) - Brookings Institute
Overall Economic Rankings
#1 Best Place for Business in 2014 - Forbes
#2 Most Affordable Market with Good Schools - Realty Trac
#2 Most Educated City in the U.S. - WalletHub
# 3 Best State for Business (NC) - Forbes