Transforming North Carolina through Life Sciences

It’s an old story – North Carolina’s economic dominance in tobacco, textiles and furniture. The tobacco settlement limited tobacco production. Technology advances helped manufacturing companies shed jobs.

New technology also seeded a new economy in life science. But how could North Carolina get from tobacco to medicine?

The Biotech Center began laying the foundation for North Carolina's thriving life sciences industry in the 1980s. Our programs helped to recruit and fund the brightest scientists and the best ideas, turn those ideas into biotech companies, and to help those biotech companies grow and produce products.

And in doing that work, different elements of North Carolina’s landscape were transformed.

  • From a Winston-Salem tobacco company to a life sciences research park

  • From furniture assembly lines to clean facilities producing and packaging the medicines in our medicine cabinets

  • From weaving cloth to editing genes that treat and potentially eradicate disease

NCBiotech works across the state to ensure that all 100 counties benefit from these transformations. Here are a few of the projects that we are working on:

Pharmaceutical Services Network

Pharmaceutical Services Network

Based in the Eastern Region

Many pharmaceutical manufacturing sites call the Greenville, N.C. area home. As two of those companies, Patheon and Mayne Pharma, announced expansions, the region expanded available training support by creating the North Carolina Pharmaceutical Services Network (NCPSN).

This one-of-a-kind collaboration, consisting of training facilities at East Carolina University and Pitt Community College, provides a continuum of pharmaceutical education and training to new and existing companies in North Carolina and beyond. NCBiotech works to link the many partners who are investing in NCPSN.

North Carolina Coastal Clinical Research Initiative

North Carolina Coastal Clinical Research Initiative

Based in the Southeast Region

Southeastern North Carolina, surrounding Wilmington, is home to dozens of clinical research companies. The cluster ranges from large companies, such as Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD), to entrepreneurial startups and companies of all sizes in between.

The NCBiotechnology Center's Southeastern Office brings those resources together under the banner of the NC Coast Clinical Research Initiative. This economic development collaboration between clinical research companies, healthcare providers, economic developers, and UNC Wilmington continues to strengthen and grow the clinical research industry cluster in the Wilmington area.

A recent Duke Energy Foundation grant is fueling clinical research curriculum upgrades. A fellowship program, continuing education and collaborative workspace will also ensure that the local workforce possesses the most up-to-date training and knowledge available anywhere.

Collaboration in Kannapolis

Collaboration in Kannapolis

Based in the Charlotte Region

A decade ago, the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) rose from the rubble of the former Cannon Mills site in Kannapolis. This unique public-private partnership fosters collaboration to improve human health, nutrition and agriculture. Activities now include eight universities and more than a dozen business and community partners.

Since inception, the Research Campus and Greater Charlotte Office have worked closely to boost life sciences growth in the region. In 2016, NCBiotech was integrated into NCRC's campus development team, which is charged with strategy development and project implementation. Two outcomes of the collaboration include:

  • A Food Processing Innovation Center made possible via a state appropriation of $4.4M
  • The announcement that Standard Process, nutritional supplement company, will open a Center of Excellence for its research and development operations
Military/Biopharma Manufacturing Training Project

Military/Biopharma Manufacturing Training Project


North Carolina is home to some of the largest military bases and operations in the U.S. Many soldiers who have decided to transition out of the military have put down roots in the community. They wish to stay in North Carolina, but they need to find a job.

A public partnership that includes military, state government, veterans’ organizations, and the life sciences industry could better link a talented pool of transitioning military to a growing number of NC-based biopharma manufacturing jobs. In the process, it will create new career opportunities for those who have served our country.

Regional Impact of Statewide Engagement Across North Carolina


RISE NC is the set of initiatives designed to link NCBiotech resources with regional strengths and interests to seed life sciences cluster growth statewide. To get involved, contact our statewide offices.

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