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It’s the Economy, Professor

NC State has promised by 2012 to double the number of startup companies it launches each year, creating much-needed jobs for workers in North Carolina. A new innovation hub, called the Springboard Innovation Partnership Portal, will play a key role in achieving this goal by facilitating business partnerships and speeding up the research pipeline.

The new portal will provide a “one-stop shop” for researchers seeking collaborators or markets for their inventions, businesses looking for creative solutions, and students pursuing entrepreneurial training.

“I learned very quickly that one of NC State’s strengths is supporting the state’s economic vitality,” says Chancellor Randy Woodson. “One of the most obvious aspects of that work is the university’s ability to get research into the real world where it creates new jobs. But in today’s economic climate, it’s more important than ever that we move this process along as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is something we do well, but we can be even better.”

Job Creation is Key

In a recession, the key to economic recovery is job creation. Companies that are less than six years old provide the bulk of new jobs; in 2007 they accounted for 64 percent of them. NC State has traditionally been a leader in job creation for North Carolinians, with about 700 U.S. patents owned and managed by the university and more than 70 start-up companies launched based on discoveries by faculty, staff and students.

Dr. Terri Lomax, vice chancellor of research and innovation, says Springboard will help NC State build on this record and enable the university to play a vital role in helping North Carolina’s economy recover from the worst recession in decades.

She notes that the university’s small business incubator, Office of Technology Transfer, Entrepreneurship Initiative, Industrial Extension Service, Center for Innovation Management Studies and other similar units have long provided valuable services to faculty, students and external partners but could create even more impact with increased coordination.

“Springboard gives us a way to more readily connect people, ideas and resources,” Lomax says. “Our goals are to double the number of startup companies that we launch by 2012, increase sponsored research by 50 percent by 2015, and transform the innovation experience at NC State.”

Green Means Go

As a further way to enhance innovation and speed the pipeline, Woodson has pledged $2.5 million over five years in a special Chancellor’s Innovation Fund designed to help researchers bridge the monetary gap that may prevent them from getting their ideas to market.