Leaders from across the nation in business, higher education and the public sector converged on NC State Tuesday for a critical summit to discuss how universities impact job growth and economic development.
The event, “Transforming Economies: The Role of University Innovation in Economic Growth,” was hosted by Chancellor Randy Woodson, who said universities need to find new ways to leverage their research findings to spur job creation and economic development.
“America’s research universities are hubs of innovation,” said Woodson, speaking to a capacity crowd at the new James B. Hunt Jr. Library on Centennial Campus. “We are in a time that is challenging, but also brimming with opportunity. Now more than ever we need to continue our investments in innovation and discovery.”
Turning Technology into Industry
Woodson pointed to NC State’s success turning new technologies into businesses that create jobs and directly impact communities.
“Every year NC State generates $1.7 billion in direct economic impact,” said Woodson, noting that the university pumps $8 back into the economy for every $1 received in state funding. “The importance of collaboration across disciplines within the university and across industry sectors outside the university is key to creating partnerships that will drive the economy.”
NC State researchers have spun off more than 100 companies that have attracted more than $1.5 billion in investment capital, Woodson said. Those companies employ thousands of people throughout North Carolina and across the nation.
In addition, NC State’s Office of Technology Transfer has helped university researchers obtain 795 active U.S. patents and more than 1,500 patents worldwide, with another 234 U.S. patents pending. Licensing agreements on research discoveries have made more than 270 products available to consumers in areas ranging from health care to food production.
The half-day forum kicked off with remarks by Woodson, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and a keynote address by John Seely Brown, independent co-chairman of the Deloitte’s Center for the Edge and a visiting scholar and adviser to the provost at the University of Southern California.
The event concluded with interactive panel sessions featuring university presidents, thought leaders and some of North Carolina’s top business leaders, including Rob Glass, vice president of technology at Cree and Jim Goodnight, co-founder and CEO of SAS.