RTCC defines 'era of cleantech' opportunity at annual meeting

Research Triangle Region, N.C. – The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) announced the newest wave of innovation-based job growth is underway during its inaugural annual meeting held Tuesday at the Jim Hunt Library at N.C. State University. This innovative collaboration of business, government and academic research focuses on positioning the Research Triangle Region as a world-leading hub in the rapidly growing markets of smart energy, smart water and advanced transportation. The meeting brought together over 150 industry leaders to discuss the future of clean technology in the Triangle and beyond, one day ahead of President Barack Obama’s announcement that Raleigh was chosen as the site of the Next Generation Power Electronics Institute.

The U.S Department of Energy’s choice of NCSU’s Centennial Campus as home for an initiative to accelerate the nation's economy recognizes the Research Triangle Region’s emerging role as a hub of cleantech research, technology and innovation. The $70 million that will be awarded to 18 businesses and seven universities across the country will create next-generation products that will make power grids more efficient. The RTCC wrote a letter of support for the Institute on behalf of NCSU’s FREEDM Systems Center, which submitted the proposal.

The RTCC is well-positioned to extend the reach of the newly formed Institute, having organized a cluster of companies, academic programs and nonprofit support organizations in the cleantech space one year ago. “These technologies represent the ‘third wave’ of innovation-based job growth in this region that began two generations ago with IT and continued during the 1980s and 1990s with biotech,” said Lee Anne Nance, managing director of the RTCC and executive vice president of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), which manages the Cluster. “We believe the coming decades will be remembered here as the ‘era of cleantech.’”

Charles Hayes, president of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, addressed the cleantech sector's increasing importance as a long-term economic engine for the greater Triangle area. "Our job," noted Hayes, "is to attract business investment that will drive job growth. The membership growth of the RTCC in its first full year is a proxy for the cleantech sector potential to drive regional economic development." Hayes added, "We believe this growth sector will have a regional economic impact on par with what we have experienced with tech and biotech, two industries that have benefitted from the region's rich legacy of collaboration, over the past twenty years."

A previously announced commissioned study completed in partnership with RTI International, also a founding member of the RTCC board of directors, identified 169 cleantech firms with 187 locations operating in the 13-county region. Representing an increasingly valuable segment of the region’s economy, RTCC member companies have publicly announced cleantech contracts valued at nearly a billion dollars during the last six months.

Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business at Sensus, and RTCC's incoming vice chairman, Matt Zafuto echoed those thoughts, "I see tremendous continued revenue growth opportunity for Sensus and other companies within the cluster in the coming years. We chose to increase our involvement with the RTCC because it is clearly strengthening the cleantech ecosystem in the Triangle region and making companies in the sector stronger as they compete for contracts and talent."

According to ABB of North America Senior Vice President Allen Burchett, who closed Tuesday’s meeting, "There are one billion people in the world who do not have a working light bulb today. Due to population growth, that number is expected to grow to two billion by 2030. The market for energy equipment is trillions of dollars. The RTCC adds value for companies like ABB because it provides an objective, ongoing venue through which we can connect to the right solutions, the right partners and the right people."

"RTCC efforts have and will continue to help programs like ours attract the funding that enables world-leading research and development in engineering-driven sectors like cleantech," noted Dr. Louis Martin-Vega, dean of engineering at NCSU, in his remarks at the annual meeting. "The by-products of this funding are innovation and a skilled workforce that companies operating in the Triangle ecosystem increasingly can use to drive business."

About Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster
The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) is an initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders working to accelerate the region’s cleantech economy through collaboration and partnerships that promote innovation and sector growth. The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) formed and manages the RTCC with funding from industry board members ABB Inc., Cisco Systems, Duke Energy, Field2Base Inc., Itron Inc., Piedmont Natural Gas, Power Analytics Corp., PowerSecure International, RTI International, SAS, Schneider Electric, Sensus and Siemens and its members. RTRP is the public-private partnership that leads economic development strategy for the area within a 60-mile radius of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. For more information, visit www.researchtrianglecleantech.org.

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