Little apparent payoff from the North Carolina Research Campus, on which the UNC system is spending $23 million a year. As Duke Cheston reports:
To date, though, the taxpayers have seen little return on their investment. Starting a biotechnology hub from scratch entails much financial risk with no guarantee of positive returns. A number of community-funded start-ups have not had much success, and “nutraceuticals” is a highly specialized part of biotechnology.
The campus has been in operation for roughly five years, and so far there are no spinoff businesses and no royalties being collected. Or in any case, none that any NCRC representatives would discuss, although a UNC-Chapel Hill scientist mentioned that research from scientists based at the Kannapolis campus have applied for two patents, one of which has been licensed so far.
And although some jobs have been created by the campus, the positions tend to be for highly trained specialists who are not from the area. According to the UNC-Chapel Hill scientist, however, for each Ph.D. hired, the campus has generated between five and eight ancillary jobs. Mike Todd estimates that between 300 and 400 people from Kannapolis have jobs on the site.