WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Piedmont Triad Research Park, Winston-Salem’s growing hub for technology and innovation, is undergoing some significant changes.
The park is being renamed “Wake Forest Innovation Quarter,” Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center announced yesterday. The press conference took place at Wake Forest Biotech Place, the park’s flagship building.
The rebranding capitalizes on Wake Forest University’s reputation for medical research as well as distinguishes the park as its own unique entity.
“We were constantly being confused with RTP (Research Triangle Park) outside our market, and many people did not understand that the medical center owns and operates much of the park,” said John McConnell, M.D., chief executive of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “By adding the university’s name, it gives the quarter a recognized brand.”
New name part of big changes at park
The rebranding of the park, McConnell explained, will better convey the diversity of research coming out of the park, as well as capture the live-work-play aspect that drives most successful urban research parks.
Over the past two decades, the park has been transformed into a vibrant, growing center for research and collaboration out of the remnants of the city’s once-booming tobacco industry. Those buildings have now been renovated into state-of-the-art research and lab facilities.
“We love that we’re moving into a building with such great history,” said Inmar CEO David Mounts. Last summer, Inmar announced that is was relocating its headquarters to a revitalized R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. building, bringing 900 jobs to the park.
Park officials expect to expand the park’s workforce to 10,000 by the end of 2017. After Inmar Inc. moves its operations downtown by early 2014, there will be about 2,300 employees associated with the park.
“The opportunity to create a dynamic hub for innovation in the biomedical sciences and information technology here in
|Eric Tomlinson, president of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Baptist Health.|
Winston-Salem represents the evolution of the classic research park, in which we can support and encourage all of the community to engage creatively with one another both socially and professionally,” said Eric Tomlinson, D.Sc., Ph.D., chief innovation officer, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and president, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
By the end of 2014, Tomlinson expects more than $520 million in public and private investment in the park, with 2,800 employees at over 35 companies and an estimated annual payroll of $160 million.
The park is already home to several biotech companies, including Carolina Liquid Chemistries and over 20 startups out of Wake Forest University. These companies include NanoMedica, Orthovative Technologies, KeraNetics andOcular Systems, Inc.
“It’s an exciting day for the city of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County,” said Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines. “The impact on our community is going to be immeasurable.”
The city and county have invested more than $17.7 million into the park.
“We believe the name change will help Winston-Salem continue to evolve its image and better capture the attention of the nation and world regarding our diversity of technology,” said Joines.
Growth attracts new tenants
Yesterday’s press conference included the announcement of two new tenants moving into the park as well an another tenant expanding its facilities.
One of the new tenants, Blue Atom Technologies, provides innovative software tools designed to increase efficiencies and probability of success in chemical research and development. The company combines search and predictive analytics, molecular modeling and its unique chemistry experience to allow life-sciences companies to focus investment dollars on drug candidates with the highest potential of success. The company has five employees and anticipates growing that number to 15 by the end of the year.
The other, Biolucidation, is a privately owned contract research firm that delivers non-clinical abuse liability testing services to life-sciences institutions by uniquely blending academic insightfulness with the purpose and discipline of industry. The company expects to have five employees by the end of the year and double that number by the end of 2014.
In addition, Russian medicinal chemistry company AsInEx has decided to establish its North American operations in Winston-Salem. The company chose Winston-Salem over other drug discovery hotbeds, like San Francisco and Boston, due in large part to the world-class facilities available at the park. The company plans to grow from its current 11 employees in Winston-Salem to 30 by the end of the year.