Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 1

Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 1

Life Science and Biotech thrive in W-S. Here’s why

In economic development, individual regions tend to focus their efforts on specific industries. In this series of posts, we’ll examine why several individual industries have focused their expansion efforts, ultimately, in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County.

Life Sciences and Biotechnology

With the steady growth of life sciences and biotechnology-related businesses, one might assume that any community has a legitimate shot at being the location of choice for one of these forward-thinking companies. In reality, there are key elements that tend to make certain locations stand out over others.

In the case of Winston-Salem, some of those elements revolve around where and how innovation tends to happen. For instance…

Academic chops

It’s fun when the hometown college has a great football team. But real academic quality tends to be the main attraction for big brains, big ideas and big business. More importantly, quality of academics has to extend beyond ivy-covered walls to state institutions and community colleges. And it’s not something that happens over night. For generations Winston-Salem has nurtured its universities and colleges as they have grown into regionally, nationally and in some cases globally recognized academic and research institutions.

Dedicated environment

Any community can throw the words “research park” in front of an office park and claim they have the perfect place for science or tech-related businesses. In truth, the research parks that succeed are developed with purpose in mind. Particularly for life science and biotech, parks must be designed and created with innovation and collaboration in mind. Piedmont Triad Research Park in downtown Winston-Salem is an urban campus based on those exact objectives with a hearty technology backbone and community-wide support.

Innovation street cred

Businesses and institutions want to be where innovation tends to happen, perhaps because they see it as a sign that an area is conducive to creativity and collaboration. Successful breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, nanotechnology, along with innovative programs in biotechnology have earned Winston-Salem a well-deserved reputation for a culture of creativity.

Naturally, other attributes play significant roles in the decision to start-up, expand or relocated here. But it is the community’s understanding of and commitment to creativity and innovation that companies love.

What factors make other industries’ hearts beat faster? We’ll dive into another industry in Part 2.

Announced: $16 million Investment in Piedmont Triad Research Park

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. is making a $16-million investment in Wake Forest BioTech Place, a former manufacturing facility near the corner of Fifth Street and Patterson Avenue in downtown Winston-Salem.  For the full article from the Winston-Salem Journal click here:

How Life Science can Bring Life to Winston-Salem

At the heart of Winston-Salem’s push into this fascinating and burgeoning field is the Piedmont Triad Research Park (PTRP), featuring studies in the areas of Regenerative Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Nanotechnology, and many more.  While the park contributes heavily to the broader scientific community, they also have a “track record of turning scientific hypothesis into commercially marketable concepts”, thus putting money back into our community.  The master plan for the PTRP includes developing over 200 acres and creating more than 27,000 jobs in the east Winston-Salem area.  The current park houses 55 different companies and employs 925 personnel.

Outside of PTRP, Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest University, and Forsyth Technical Community College all have various programs focused on Life Sciences.  The most nationally recognized of these programs is probably the Regenerative Medicine studies done at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.  While it may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, the team at the institute, led by renowned Director Anthony Atala, M.D. was the “first in the world to successfully transplant a laboratory-grown organ into humans.” This accomplishment, in itself, is remarkable and could pave the way for saving countless lives through organ transplants.  A number of other state-of-the-art programs have been completed or are underway for the institute.  Advanced medical programs like this, and the personnel that accompany them, helped Winston-Salem make the list as a “Top 7 Most Intelligent City.”

Nearby, Winston-Salem State University features a dedicated Department of Life Science.  Currently, about 230 students are navigating their way through the advanced curriculum, working in partnership with PTRP.  The department offers students three different Bachelor of Science major choices in Biology, Biotechnology, and Molecular Biology.  Although this is a fairly young program, with the first graduating class having emerged in 2002, the graduates have already accomplished tremendous things .  Forsyth Technical Community College’s program in Biotechnology is the largest in the state of its kind.  It has graduated 108 students since the program’s initial graduating class in 2004 and is getting more extensive by the year.  Eventually, they are looking to move their program within PTRP to further, by proximity, the already exceptional nature of the program.

The Life Sciences industry in Winston-Salem is quickly building the momentum it needs to impact the everyday lives of the citizens of Winston-Salem.  The $87 million Wexford-RJR-Wake Forest Health Sciences deal has already started bringing in construction and support-related jobs.  We hope that, through these local examples and background information, you have a better appreciation for how Life Sciences plays a key role in the dynamic economic development of Winston-Salem.  In addition to the potential to save and improve innumerable lives around the world, the field of Life Sciences is helping structure Winston-Salem as a hub for high-paying jobs and attracting the infrastructure and capital to allow the city to grow with it.

Photos courtesy of: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

At the heart of Winston-Salem’s push into this fascinating and burgeoning field is the Piedmont Triad Research Park (PTRP), featuring studies in the areas of Regenerative Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Nanotechnology, and many more.  While the park contributes heavily to the broader scientific community, they also have a “track record of turning scientific hypothesis into commercially marketable concepts”, thus putting money back into our community.  The master plan for the PTRP includes developing over 200 acres and creating more than 27,000 jobs in the east Winston-Salem area.  The current park houses 55 different companies and employs 925 personnel.

Outside of PTRP, Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest University, and Forsyth Technical Community College all have various programs focused on Life Sciences.  The most nationally recognized of these programs is probably the Regenerative Medicine studies done at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.  While it may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, the team at the institute, led by renowned Director Anthony Atala, M.D. was the “first in the world to successfully transplant a laboratory-grown organ into humans.” This accomplishment, in itself, is remarkable and could pave the way for saving countless lives through organ transplants.  A number of other state-of-the-art programs have been completed or are underway for the institute.  Advanced medical programs like this, and the personnel that accompany them, helped Winston-Salem make the list as a “Top 7 Most Intelligent City.”

Nearby, Winston-Salem State University features a dedicated Department of Life Science.  Currently, about 230 students are navigating their way through the advanced curriculum, working in partnership with PTRP.  The department offers students three different Bachelor of Science major choices in Biology, Biotechnology, and Molecular Biology.  Although this is a fairly young program, with the first graduating class having emerged in 2002, the graduates have already accomplished tremendous things .  Forsyth Technical Community College’s program in Biotechnology is the largest in the state of its kind.  It has graduated 108 students since the program’s initial graduating class in 2004 and is getting more extensive by the year.  Eventually, they are looking to move their program within PTRP to further, by proximity, the already exceptional nature of the program.

The Life Sciences industry in Winston-Salem is quickly building the momentum it needs to impact the everyday lives of the citizens of Winston-Salem.  The $87 million Wexford-RJR-Wake Forest Health Sciences deal has already started bringing in construction and support-related jobs.  We hope that, through these local examples and background information, you have a better appreciation for how Life Sciences plays a key role in the dynamic economic development of Winston-Salem.  In addition to the potential to save and improve innumerable lives around the world, the field of Life Sciences is helping structure Winston-Salem as a hub for high-paying jobs and attracting the infrastructure and capital to allow the city to grow with it.

Photos courtesy of: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center