RTP / KIETS Catalysts for Innovation Initiative



The Research Triangle Park is committed to working in partnership with the Triangle Universities to identify, develop and implement meaningful activities that will be housed within the new Park Center development located at the core of RTP. The purpose of the Catalysts for Innovation initiative is to identify new university activities that would benefit from a partnership leveraging the RTP, Triangle universities, and the private sector. The vision is to make North Carolina the leading incubator for innovative ideas leveraging the intellectual, physical and economic assets located in the Research Triangle Park Region and North Carolina.

As part of this effort, The RTP Frontier offers flexible space that will be available to projects, through the Research Triangle Foundation (RTF) and the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies Inc. (TUCASI), as a convening point for projects, teams and centers to locate. This initiative is intended to identify and seed creative forward thinking projects that can be developed in the RTP with access to industry partners and the greater Triangle community. A request for proposals was announced in February 2016 that resulted in 13 proposal submissions totaling over $1.5 million in requests.

Two projects selected for support through the Catalysts for Innovation in progress include the following:

  • Biomedical Innovation Collaborative for Veteran Entrepreneurs at the Frontier –

The UNC/NC State Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) will lead the effort in close collaboration with Bunker Labs RDU to help veteran entrepreneurs identify and develop innovative biomedical solutions that can positively impact quality of life. Since October 2016, MEDIC has hosted or co-hosted 4 events that have brought together the biomedical community. This includes an event on European Medical Device Regulations in partnership with NCBIO, an “Industry Showcase Event” with the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) RTP Industry chapter, a Fireside Chat focused on Medical Economic Trends in collaboration with the Duke MedX NeuroInnovations group, and a professional forum on Advanced Manufacturing. In partnership with the Triangle Global Health Consortium, the PIs have also started a 5 month long innovation bootcamp focusing on 2 problem areas: Clinic-in-a-Box and Disease Vectors. 10 faculty members, 15 undergraduates, and 4 graduate students are engaged in this project.

  • EcoPRT Automated Transit in Research Triangle Park – This effort is a collaboration of NC State’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering along with NC State and UNC’s Departments of Computer Science as well as NC State’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The PIs are developing a novel transit solution called EcoPRT exploring its uses on RTP and establishing RTP as an automated transportation R&D hub with multi-university collaboration. The PIs have indicated that they are in the process of building their second prototype vehicle, conducting autonomous testing including aspects of networking, mapping and obstacle detection and exploring the interests of demand routes within the RTP with potential users and corporate partners in collaboration with the RTP Foundation. 4 faculty members are involved, 10 undergraduate students, 10 graduate students, 3 corporate partners engaged, and 1 invention disclosure submitted.

The RTP Foundation, TUCASI and UNC-Chapel Hill are leveraging Kenan Institute support for the Catalysts for Innovation program.