Venture Conference in Cary to feature North Carolina Research Campus

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — The North Carolina Research Campus, the biotech project under development in Kannapolis, will be featured today at the Southeast Venture Conference in Cary.

Clyde Higgs, vice president of business development for Castle & Cooke, will be a member of the Investment in Tomorrow panel at 1:25 p.m. today at the Umstead Hotel & Spa.

Higgs’ focus at the conference will be on recruiting biotech companies to the developing 350-acre campus Higgs’ primary interests are in the fields of medical devices, diagnostics, health and wellness and agri-bio.

He is trying to develop business opportunities around a $200 million venture capital fund that will help seed growth at the campus.

David Murdock, owner and chairman of Castle & Cooke, established the venture fund to attract biotech companies.

“What’s happening at the research campus here at the start of the 21st century is akin to what happened when Henry Ford introduced a new vision for production near the dawn of the 20th century,” Higgs said in a press release.

“We’re assembling remarkable resources and making great things possible in a way that’s rare and perhaps unique in the nation.”

Planned as a public-private partnership, the campus will combine the research of N.C. universities and work-training programs with the know-how of business.

The partnership includes billionaire Murdock, who also owns Dole Food Company, Inc.; Duke University; the University of North Carolina system; and the N.C. Community College System.

Construction is well under way on the campus’ Core Laboratory building. The Core Laboratory will include a state-of-the-art contract manufacturing biogenic facility and tenants.

Construction also has begun on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill laboratory and the Central Energy Plant. The campus’ grand plan calls for a million square feet of laboratory and office space.

Two companies, the BioMarker Group and Pelican Life Sciences, have announced plans to move to the campus, which is designed to complete North Carolina’s “biotech corridor.”

The corridor includes Research Triangle Park, the Triad, Asheville and Charlotte.

North Carolina has the country’s third largest collection of biotech companies and its research universities are nationally ranked.

The mission of the Southeast Venture Conference is to help support the innovation and entrepreneurial activity of emerging high growth technology companies from the Southeast.