Gateway University Research Park: A Catalyst for Innovation in North Carolina.

N.C.'s focus on technology transfer brings new ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

3/8/2012

[North Carolina Department of Commerce Editorial Staff]

In 2008, in southeast Greensboro, a piece of nanotechnology made the transition from advanced research to commercial application. Facilitating the transition was Gateway University Research Park, a shining example of North Carolina’s research and development infrastructure and the state’s commitment to transferring ideas and technology from the lab to the commercial marketplace. By nurturing innovation while promoting the development of a highly-skilled workforce, North Carolina offers companies outstanding business opportunities across many industry sectors.

Heated vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding, or HVARTM, is a cutting-edge process for creating carbon-fiber composite materials. Composite materials, whose physical properties enable new ways to manufacture and assemble structures, are being incorporated into a wide array of practical commercial applications. This technology was initially developed at North Carolina A&T State University.  Advaero Technologies, Inc. was established as a start-up nanotechnology company through collaboration with Gateway University Research Park. Advaero secured the license for the technology through the university for the purpose of bringing the technology to market.

Advaero currently boasts specialized work in the use of high-performance materials, including carbon fibers, nanofibers, Kevlar and fiberglass. Advaero’s customer base extends across a wide variety of industry sectors, such as aerospace, construction, transportation, marine and defense. Commercial applications include lightweight, highly durable aircraft parts; bullet resistant and bullet proof composites; infrastructure development for bridges and other construction; and wind turbine manufacturing solutions.

“Glass and carbon nanofibers are the next generation textiles,” noted Advaero President and CEO Greg Bowers. “And with the lighter weight, more durable composite fiber parts, aircraft can increase payload and achieve greater fuel efficiency.”

The manufacturing process is also greener than traditional composite manufacturing systems, which translates to cost savings and positive environmental impacts. “Advaero’s out-of-autoclave process yields results comparable to what can be achieved with an autoclave, but is less expensive,” explained Bowers. This aspect makes the technology appealing for both defense applications as well as the civil aviation manufacturing industry.

Such meaningful university and corporate collaboration is the basis for Gateway University Research Park, the venue for a joint academic alliance between North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  The park consists of two campuses being developed on 75-acre plots located in southeast Greensboro and north Greensboro. The southeast campus, which houses Advaero, is also the location of the newly opened Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN).



Advaero President and CEO Greg Bowers shows off
a high-tech material fatigue test system available at
Gateway Research University Park.




“We could not afford to commercialize the technology without this collaboration (with Gateway University Research Park),” said Bowers. “And the university benefits from the expertise of our engineers and staff. We work with the students from the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, training them on the equipment. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement that serves as a catalyst to move research out of universities and into an environment of practical application, where it can benefit the general public.”

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