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Economic Innovation: NC State’s Formula for Prosperity

To NC State Faculty, Staff and Students,

This week, NC State took another step in its continued leadership of driving economic development and job growth in North Carolina.

The new James B. Hunt, Jr. Library on Centennial Campus provided the perfect backdrop for hosting the event, “Transforming Economies: The Role of University Innovation in Economic Growth.”  Innovation and discovery lead to new industries and products, improves our quality of life and creates jobs. Simply put, innovation and discovery drive our economy and bring us prosperity.

For 125 years, NC State has been at the forefront of innovation, both in the strategies we use to educate and our approach to research that makes a difference.  At the same time, we need to investigate what innovation and discovery will look like in the future. How do we get there? What can we do differently to turn what we learn into the industries and jobs of tomorrow? Those are some of the questions we pose as we look into a future that can sometimes be difficult to imagine.

For example, at our National Science Foundation supported ASSIST Engineering Research Center, scientists are using nanotechnology to create self-powered health monitoring systems.  Imagine a monitoring device worn on the chest like a patch, on the wrist like a watch, powered by your own body – no batteries. The discoveries and innovation at the ASSIST Center are pushing the boundaries of medicine and technology.

Meanwhile, our smart grid work through the FREEDM Center on Centennial Campus may be a game-changer in the utility industry. Researchers are investigating ways of delivering energy in a plug-and-play manner and in a way that is sustainable. The investments in smart grid have already created a cluster of 60 companies that employ more than 3,000 people in our region.

America’s research universities are hubs of innovation, and we must continue the investments that lead to the next great ideas and discoveries. We do face obstacles. We face economic challenges, and we all know resources are finite, but I am confident about our future, as it is brimming with opportunity. Now more than ever we need to continue our investments in innovation and discovery – they are critical to the long term economic success of our state and our nation.

I want to thank everyone who joined us for this important event.  I know the ideas exchanged and insights that were shared will lead to rewarding collaboration and innovation. The entire NC State community can be very proud of our standing as world-class leaders in education, research and engagement.  As your Chancellor, I look forward to leading our way as we turn the ideas and discoveries from NC State into the products, inventions and solutions of the future.


Randy Woodson
NC State University