Biotech conference will feature NCRC

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 1, 2009

By Emily Ford
Editor’s note: News Molecules are designed to give readers occasional tidbits of information about the N.C. Research Campus.KANNAPOLIS√≥One of the oldest and largest biotechnology conferences in the Southeast will feature the N.C. Research Campus.
The fledgling biotech hub in Kannapolis scored a one-hour panel discussion at Biotech 2009, the 18th annual conference hosted by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development in Raleigh.
Research Campus officials were “happy to receive a significant spot” on the Feb. 17 agenda, said Clyde Higgs, business recruiter for campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina.
“NCRC has such a unique story to tell,” Higgs wrote in an e-mail.
Curiosity from conference planners themselves drove their decision to include the campus.
“There has been a lot of interest here in wanting to know what is going on at the Research Campus,” said Joan Siefert Rose, president of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, a non-profit business support organization at the Research Triangle Park.
The campus in Kannapolis has generated buzz around the state by partnering with eight North Carolina universities and numerous private companies, including PepsiCo and LabCorp.
“We see potential there for really starting a new hub for innovation in the region,” Siefert Rose said.
Research Campus panelists will discuss why collaboration is important for research innovation and why the campus is uniquely positioned to be a leader, Higgs said.
Dole Food Co. owner David Murdock opened the $1.5 billion project on the ruins of an old textile mill he once owned in downtown Kannapolis.
Castle & Cooke president Lynne Scott Safrit will lead the discussion. The panel will include one of the biggest stars at the Research Campus, Wilmington-based Pharmaceutical Product Development Inc.
Daisy DeWeese-Gatt, the site leader in Kannapolis for PPD, will talk about her company, which is expected to hire up to 300 people at the Research Campus.
The economy also will fuel discussions at Biotech 2009, where many of the 800-plus participants likely will lament a lack of funding during the recession.
North Carolina still has many opportunities for funding, Siefert Rose said, including venture capital, partnerships, loans and grants.
“But certainly this is a more difficult market than we’ve seen in many years,” she said.