North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2015

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PHOTOS PROVIDED BY N.C. STATE UNIVERSITY 19 N O RT H C A R O L I N A E CO N O M I C D E V E LO P M E N T G U I D E T he space is 3,000 square feet, open and fi lled with brightly colored modern offi ce furnishings that are loosely organized into groups. Engineers brainstorm at a table in the "collaboration pit." Elsewhere in the large room, students and newly minted Ph.D.s share ideas via teleconference with product developers and factory managers on the other side of the world. Welcome to Germany-based Mann+Hummel Group's North Carolina Innovation Center, which opened November 2013. It's one of more than 60 tenants at N.C. State University's Centennial Campus, a 1,100-acre research park in Raleigh, along with Swiss manu- facturer AAB Inc. and Spain-based Grifols Inc., which produces medical treatments from blood and plasma-derived products. Mann+Hummel makes air, fuel, oil and water fi lters for everything from lawnmowers to passenger jets. Chances are good that at least one of them — factory-installed original or routine- maintenance replacement — is on your car. The company has more than 14,000 employees at 60 locations worldwide and recorded almost $3.6 billion of sales in 2013. The Innovation Center is the fi rst place the 73-year-old company has performed research outside its own offi ces. "German companies have a reputation for being risk-averse," says Charles Vaillant, Mann+Hummel vice president for innovation and corporate strategy. "We decided to break that mold. We want to be different and do it fast." He believes partnering with N.C. State will lead to faster innovation. Most of that innovation will involve nonwoven fabrics, which are made of long synthetic fi bers chemically, mechani- cally or thermally bound together. These fabrics have been around for about two decades and are used in fi lters, health- care products, construction materials, apparel and other products. N.C. State's Nonwovens Institute, not coinciden- B Y D . L A W R E N C E B I V I N S A German fi lter-maker assembles its plan for the Americas with North Carolina assets. ENGINEERED International companies need North American outposts to take advantage of blossoming markets. German fi lter-maker Mann+Hummel buys a factory in Fayetteville and puts its North American headquarters and an R&D center in Raleigh. Solution: Challenge: Nonwoven fabrics were invented about 20 years ago and are used to make ever care products to automobile fi lters. N.C. State's Nonwovens Institute develops uses for t em. C A S E S T U D Y Raleigh PRECISION Fayetteville

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