grant to begin biotechnology project
By Scott Bigelow
The University of
North Carolina at Pembroke was recently notified by the National Science
Foundation (NSF) it would receive a federal Partnership for Innovation
grant to startup a biotechnology project.
UNCP was granted
$324,369 for the first year of a proposed $600,000, three-year program.
Faculty and administration at the University have worked for more than
two years on the program with the goal of construct a bio-processing
BIO (Building Innovative Opportunities for Southeast N.C.), it will
provide workshops, courses, seminars and conferences for educators,
industry and others involved with economic development through the creation
of a Biotechnology Business and Industrial Training Center.
The next phase of
the program is to obtain funding for the actual construction of a building
to house the center. A 4,800 square-foot facility, estimated to cost
$1 million, is planned for COMtech industry park near Pembroke.
C. Meadors said the grant is a step forward for the University's growing
biotechnology program and for the region's economy.
of North Carolina at Pembroke's biotechnology initiatives will distinguish
our University, our people and our region as having the vision to prepare
for the coming technological landscape," said Chancellor Meadors.
"Biotechnology is just only beginning to bear fruit for a more
healthy and prosperous North Carolina."
The purpose of the
Biotechnology Center would be to train UNCP and community college students
for jobs in the biotechnology industry, to conduct research and to manufacture
products for the biotechnology industry. The ultimate goal is to attract
the growing biotechnology industry to Southeastern North Carolina.
Partners in the
grant proposal come from education, business and government sectors,
including Robeson, Richmond, Southeastern, Fayetteville Technical and
Central Carolina community colleges; Wyeth Vaccines of Sanford, N.C.,
Embrex, Inc., of Laurinburg and the Research Triangle Park, Kelly Scientific
Resources of Raleigh, New Brunswick Scientific Corp., Inc., of New Jersey
and COMtech; Robeson County Office of Economic Development, Scotland
County Board of Commissioners, and the Council of Government's Lumber
River Workforce Development Corp.
The NSF grant will
be administered by UNCP's Regional Center for Economic,
Community and Professional Development, but many individuals and
departments of the University worked on the proposal, said Dr. Roger
Brown, Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.
"We have waited for a long time for this confirmation," Dr.
Brown said. "My warmest thanks to Dr. Len Holmes (chemistry professor),
Lynda Parlett (interim director of the Center for Sponsored Research
and Programs) and Sylvia Pate (Director of the Regional Center) for
their work on the proposal."
"We also are
indebted to Robeson Community College (RCC) and our other community
college partners," he said. "Together with last week's historic
news of RCC's nomination to be a regional lead biotechnology center,
this is the beginning of a major new chapter in higher education collaboration
for the good of Southeastern North Carolina's economy."
UNCP was a partner
in RCC's successful bid to win a recommendation for major portion of
a $4.4 million grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. Both RCC and UNCP
have buildings nearing completion at COMtech.
Efforts to win funding
for construction and laboratory equipment are underway, and the NSF
grant is a great boost. About $75,000 of the initial grant will go to
fund staffing and $188,000 for equipment.
As a condition of
the award, the University agreed to provide $60,000 in matching funds.
Dr. Holmes, who
provided much of the initial research for the program, said the program's
impact would be widespread.
"UNCP has been
in the field of biotechnology for 10 years thanks to $1 million in investments
from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and we are ready to take
this most important next step," Dr. Holmes said. "We have
the staff, the students and resources to make this vision a reality."
A vocal supporter
of RCC's and UNCP's biotechnology initiative, state Sen. David Weinstein
said the grant is good news for workforce development.
Sen. Weinstein said. "This coupled with RCC's grant from the Golden
LEAF Foundation gives us a chance to create a workforce that can attract
a biotechnology industry that pays decent wages."
like this takes teamwork," Sen. Weinstein said. "My hat is
off to Chancellor Meadors, (RCC) President Charles Chrestman and Superintendent
Colin Armstrong (Public Schools of Robeson County), who have worked
so well together and with the legislature and the Golden LEAF Foundation."
worked long and hard, and the payoff is that it helps everyone,"
to University Newswire