North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2015

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Provided By SenSuS certain curricula to prepare students better to help us when they graduate. And if you walked into our facility now, you would see anywhere from seven to 10 current N.C. State students who are interning with us." The Triangle's amalgamation of clean-tech companies has drawn compari- sons to a better-known technology hub, where companies focus on computers, software and cellphones. Is North Carolina home to the clean-tech industry's version of Silicon Valley? Industry news source Cleantechnica.com posed that question in 2012, and Seth Crossno, industrial liaison offcer for the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Manage- ment Systems Center at N.C. State, says yes. "Based on the number of companies in the area [the Silicon Valley compari- son] seems to be pretty accurate. Silicon Valley was creating computer chips that didn't exist before. What we're doing is basically modernizing a system that has been utilized for the last 100 years." There are other differences. Utilities are subject to layers of state and federal regulations, whereas during the dot-com boom, when Silicon Valley was burgeoning, "the Internet was like the Wild West." Lucas Fishback is CEO and founder of PlotWatt. He was a systems engineer in Silicon Valley, but when he wanted to start a company he looked "for places with good grad programs, a good qualifed workforce, where we could do a startup without requiring that all our employees sleep on couches." He employs a dozen people and has raised $3 million in equity fnancing. Even though PlotWatt is part of the Triangle's clean-tech boom, he says, "the allure of the Triangle was pretty well divorced from the smart- grid hotness and has been instead based on this is a good place to build a software company." Research centers at local universi- ties add benefts beyond workforce for clean-tech companies. N.C. State's FREEDM Systems Center has already produced a smart transformer that works with others to reroute power around outages. Cambridge, Mass.-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology called it one of the world's 10 most important emerging technologies in 2011. That was before the Obama administration chose Raleigh and N.C. State for a high-tech manufacturing hub in early 2014. The Next Generation Power Elec- tronics Innovation Institute will develop large-scale production processes for 46 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 R ensus' interoperability Demo Lab displays its pow y es can beneft all utilities.

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