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DanRNC

Research Triangle Park (RTP) & the Triangle Biotech Cluster

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A couple of articles came out this week about the Triangle finally competing with Silicon Valley. Do you think the Triangle will ever surpass Silicon Valley in the amount of tech businesses headquartered here? I don't, but it is nice being compared to such a powerhouse.

N&O Story

TBJ Story

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Interesting comparison. I was curious as to whether they look for a high unemployment rate, or a low one in the study? A high one indicates lots of labor in the pool, but I do not think it's necessarily a good thing.

Has anyone ever been to Silicon Valley? How is the planning out there compared to rtp?

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My humble opinion ??? We are very far off from beating "Silicon Valley". I work in the tech industry and travel to San Jose often, and I don't think we are not even close. Here are the differences as I see it. Outside of SAS and Red Hat, and if you want to count Tekelec, there are not many large WW HQs based in RTP/Triangle. We do have Sony-Ericcson NA HQ (maybe WW) and but few HQs or large sites. Nortel has shrunk to almost nothing and was not a regional site.

We do have Lenovo which the area should be doing whatever it can to keep it here, but the HQs is in NY and Beijing. We do have IBM which has been stated as their largest site in the world, but it has been dwindling. Having IBM has been a tremendous boost to the triangle and drives many jobs to the Triangle like small offices of companies that have support offices. Other tech companies have started from people leaving IBM but not like areas like San Jose or Boulder.

There are negative issues with the San Jose area, but what they do have is an

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From what you saw, is Silicon Valley designed similar to RTP ( a sprawling office park ) ? Or did it have more of an identity, and life? I would imagine they have some really cool things to entertain that high end technology crowd at lunch time.

From what I know, Silicon Valley happened naturally due to a number of great schools that are located there and the entrepreneur spirit which was already mentioned. There was not an effort, that I know of, to bring companies in and design an office park.

Cisco, Google and a few others had their starts from Stanford University.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_valley

Here you can see what is looks like from the sky

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=san+jose+ca&...,0.324200&hl=en

its a bit denser than the RTP.

RTP can not in anyway compete with Silicon valley, at least not yet. It's probably not even up to the Seattle area yet. The companies in Silicon valley are much larger and much more valuable than he two current flagship HQs of RTP (red hat and SAS). Oracle just became the largest business software company in the world.

IMO the goal should not be to compete with Silicon Valley but to become the 'Silicon Valley' of the east.

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Red hat is not in RTP anymore. They are on NCSU's centennial campus. They are in the triangle, but not in RTP.

Another "famous" technology company HQ'd in the Triangle but not in RTP is Epic Games. Heh.

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Everyone in the DC region calls Fairfax County, VA the 'Silicon Valley' of the east. I don't work in the technology sector, so I really don't know. Our Tech companies up here are spread out in many different areas of the county though (Rt. 28/dulles airport, Rt. 7/dulles toll rd, Reston, & Tysons Corner).

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Red hat is not in RTP anymore. They are on NCSU's centennial campus. They are in the triangle, but not in RTP.

Fair point, but obviously I think when comparing it to the SV region, it still counts. I think it's a strength to have multiple hubs of tech activity in the Triangle area and Centennial Campus is a great location for that.

I do worry a bit that the push for biotech centers in the Triad, Greenville, Wilmington, and now in Kannapolis and who knows where else, will mcause too much internal competition and not allow the concentration of activity needed to allow any one area to challenge SV for tech dominance.

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The reality of high tech in the USA is that it is shrinking so I doubt you will see RTP grow to resemble something such as Silicon Valley. Even Silicon Valley doesn't look as much like Silicon Valley as it once did. There are several reasons for this.

First there is a culture in the USA that does not encourage students to enter engineering, science, and mathematics fields. There is a stigma applied to it here where the heros of today's generation are basketball players and Hollywood celebs instead of people such as astronauts and scientists. (compare this to what you see in Japan) In the USA we have about 50K new engineers entering the industry as opposed to 500,000 in China & Japan. And in the USA much if this is consumed by our huge military needs.

Second businesses in the USA no longer compete with their employees. Instead they view them as a managed expense and will layoff them off before retraining. Other business tricks such as offshoring, compartmentalizing, and the elimination of vertical integration have also caused people to leave the technical fields. Who wants to go through the heartaches and expense of getting a difficult engineering degree when there are no jobs there? Ironically this is causing businesses to look off shore for research & design which is another reason such endeavors are on the decline in the USA.

As we all know, our manufacturing base is being transferred to China and other Asian countries. This is a blow to RTP because there used to be considerable manufacturing in the Park along with the research and development of manufacturing processes and logistics. It is one thing to design a product, but it is also quite another to design a process that can build it. The USA is losing all of this knowledge.

RTP's future may be like URP's. They attempted to create another research park similar to RTP in the Charlotte area called URP. Unfortunately in being about 20 years behind RTP it never gained any critical mass and is in big decline now. It's premier tennant (like RTP), IBM, built a world class engineering, research and manufacturing facility there in the late 70s early 80s and eventually staffed up to close to 8000 people. Most of that is gone now and the park is mainly a collection of businesses that serve the banking industry, a center that owned by Wachovia on property that used to belong to IBM, and a bunch of service oriented businesses. I fear this may be the ultimate fate of RTP as well.

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Do you think the Triangle will ever surpass Silicon Valley in the amount of tech businesses headquartered here? I don't, but it is nice being compared to such a powerhouse.

having lived in both san francisco and growing up in cary, i can say firsthand, the triangle will never surpass silicon valley in terms of tech business, you should really take a tour of the valley to get a scope of just how much of the computer world is headquartered there. While the triangle is like a east coast silicon valley, sillicon valley could never be outdone, at least by no place in the u.s.

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What I don't think outsiders (outside of the Triangle) realize is that there are numerous companies in the Triangle, not only in RTP. It is the entire area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and all surrounding areas) not just the "office park" people think. The amount of high quality research coming out of Duke, UNC, and NCSU is quite impressive.

RTP is not even comparable to the URP (this was doomed from the beginning and never maintained a heavy research or think-tank component like RTP and was never even in the same league). I don't think the Triangle will be Silicon Valley but will be the major player on the east coast with Boston for a long-time.

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Indeed it is. I notice that article strangely omits providing any data and doesn't discuss the social and business effects on the technical community in the USA.

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That is quite an impressive list of companies incubated there.

From what you saw, is Silicon Valley designed similar to RTP ( a sprawling office park ) ? Or did it have more of an identity, and life? I would imagine they have some really cool things to entertain that high end technology crowd at lunch time.

Silicon Valley is not an office park. It is a huge area that runs North to South in between 2 parallel lines of mountains. It can be said that SV is the area of land or

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As usual Durham is flying beneath the PR radar. A 100,000+ square foot biotech research center/incubator exists in the heart of downtown Durham although no one would ever know.

Link

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People in the Biotech community know. Scientific Properties is run by a doctor/developer who specialized in biotech wetlab space. He is also developing the old Venable warehouses. He and his wife started a non-profit group that links economically disadvantaged kids in Durham with internships and mentorships in the biosciences. It was so successful that it now serves kids state-wiode through programs in Winston-Salem and Greenville.

These developments are a "creative class" case study, and are a great thing for Durham, and for NC generally.

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Heck, I'm a graduate student in molecular biology at Duke and didn't even know about it. I knew Serenex, a company co-founded by a prof. in my dept., was downtown somewhere but had no idea it was in this facility. Very interesting place.

Edited by DanRNC

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So, just to make things more clear:

There are two Scientific Properties buildings:

1. Triangle Biotechnology Center at Durham Central Park, which is a much smaller building (used to be a garage of some sort), which is where Serenex is.

2. Triangle Biotechnology Center at Venable, which is not finished yet. It's an old tobacco warehouse that has been/is being renovated. It held artists, but they're being kicked out for the biotech stuff. (Fortunately, the owner is offering them the move to a space on Foster St at good rates.)

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That makes sense then. I knew Serenex was in the renovated garage but didn't ever remember a major center down there. Will be pretty cool when its done. Hopefully Duke will get involved like UPenn did up in Philly with a similar project launched by the same company.

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In a thread a couple of months ago I mentioned that there were a few major biotech companies looking to set up major operations in the Triangle. The TBJ is reporting that Roche is looking at building a $750 million

Tamiflu plant in the area. I know of many more companies in the pipeline but will let more official sources eventually report on these-although it is kind of mentioned in the end of the article.

Article

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I would say we are already there. I truly think this area can be numero uno as far as life sciences/pharma in the next 5-10 years. We currently have a $300 million Merck vaccine plant being built in Durham and a $190 million expansion to GSK in Zebulon. Add another $750 million plant and thats about $1.2 billion in life science investment in a 2-3 year period with just these 3 companies alone. I think Biolex in Pittsboro is also investing another $100 million in expansion.

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One thing I should add as to why this area will see a steady increase of these operations is the training and education of the workforce here. A massive state of the art 90,000 sq. ft. biomanufacturing/tech training facility will be open soon at NCSU (Centennial Campus) and a smaller 30,000 sq. ft. one will be located at NCCU. Both Durham Tech and Wake Tech have similar-type programs though not as extensive/intensive. Add to this a steady stream of undergraduates with science degrees from UNC, Duke, NCSU, Meredith, NCCU, etc. and you have a highly trained workforce already available. The problem many of these other areas have/will have that are looking to jump on the biotech bandwagon is they don't have the workforce to staff the jobs.

Edited by DanRNC

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