Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Wake Forest University have received a $2.5 million multi-year grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation to create the Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars Program. The program aims to accelerate the growth of innovative research conducted at both institutions, which are the leading economic drivers in the Piedmont Triad.
“We are pleased to make this multi-year grant to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Wake Forest University to show our support for advancing job creation and economic development,” said Stan Kelly, regional president of community banking for Wells Fargo in North Carolina and South Carolina. “This helps demonstrate Wells Fargo’s ongoing commitment to the Piedmont Triad. We’re responsible for being leaders to promote the long-term economic prosperity and quality of life for everyone in our communities. If they prosper, so do we.”
The main purpose of the Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars Program is to fund recruitment of faculty whose research shows the promise to generate significant intellectual property and regionally-based commercialization efforts as either start-up or spin-off companies. This research is expected to produce job-creating ventures within the Piedmont Triad Research Park, North Carolina’s largest urban life sciences research park, attract more biotech research companies to the Park and increase the region’s employment base.
“One of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s highest priorities is to recruit and retain talented, innovative faculty to enhance our reputation as a premier nationally recognized institution for discovery and learning,” said John D. McConnell, M.D., chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist. “The Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars’ research efforts will result in the development of health care technologies that benefit patients in our community and around the world, as well as the creation of new local jobs that will grow our local economy. We welcome Wells Fargo as a partner in this endeavor.”
Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars may have appointments at either Wake Forest University or Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center or both institutions, and will likely conduct a portion of their research at the PTRP. The multi-year grant will help cover the recruitment, salary, benefits, laboratory, equipment, research and travel costs associated with the Faculty Scholars’ work.
“Thanks to Wells Fargo, we now have the resources to recruit more cutting edge researchers to Wake Forest and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, researchers who will launch the next wave of biotechnology innovations,” said Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch. “Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have been active leaders in accelerating the transition from a manufacturing economy to a technology-based economy. We are grateful for Wells Fargo’s shared commitment to seeing our community thrive.”
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For the past five years, Wake Forest University has been ranked, by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), among the top five universities in the United States for licensing income generated from academic technology commercialization. AUTM’s figures show that together Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Wake Forest University generated almost $86 million in licensing income in 2010 –surpassing Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University. In 2010 alone, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Wake Forest University submitted 72 invention disclosures and 40 U.S. patent applications. This resulted in the issuance of 12 U.S. patents, 12 option/license/end-user agreements and the launch of two start-up companies.
The Piedmont Triad Research Park, a sub corporation of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, is currently home to 40 companies and institutions employing 925 people with a collective annual payroll of over $50 million. In addition to the researchers employed at the research park, it has generated 105 jobs related to infrastructure development since 2008.
BioTech Place, which opens in the Park in 2012, represents an investment of more than $100 million in Class A laboratory space, research facilities and mixed- use tenant space which serves as an exceptional example of private and public partnership. BioTech Place will result in 130 new jobs over the next five years. Thirty new jobs will come as a result of departmental expansion and 100 new jobs will come from support services, construction and start-up companies located in the accelerator at BioTech Place.
Existing research programs that will soon relocate to BioTech Place include sections of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and the Department of Biochemistry as well as the entire Department of Microbiology and Immunology. They join Wake Forest’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, (WFIRM) led by Anthony Atala, M.D., already sited in the Park.
The Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars program is a key contributor to these economic drivers because it will help recruit top researchers whose work will bring more biotechnology jobs to the Piedmont Triad and contribute to the continuing revitalization of downtown Winston-Salem and the Piedmont Triad area.