RALEIGH, N.C. (March 17, 2022) – The Research Triangle region’s new hub for biotech and IT training has officially opened on Wake Tech’s RTP Campus in Morrisville. Elected officials and industry professionals joined college leaders in cutting a symbolic DNA strand of balloons, marking the opening of the new facility today. Wake Tech also announced that the new facility will bear the name Lilly Science and Technology Center, in recognition of a $1.1 million contribution from Eli Lilly and Company to support biotech and life sciences programs at the college. It is the largest single corporate contribution in Wake Tech history.
“We’re very excited to open the doors of this cutting-edge facility, and the timing couldn’t be more right,” said Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls. “Over the next few years, as positions in biotechnology and IT come online at an unprecedented rate, the Lilly Center will be the go-to place for hands-on training and industry collaboration. We’re extremely grateful to Lilly and all of our industry and education partners for their support in bringing this to fruition.”
Lilly, with headquarters in Indianapolis, unites caring with discovery to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. Over the past two years, Lilly has announced plans to invest more than $1.4 billion in North Carolina to expand the company’s manufacturing footprint.
“For nearly 150 years, Lilly has played a pioneering role in discovering, developing and delivering life-changing treatments for patients,” said Eamonn Warren, vice president of parenteral manufacturing. “None of this would be possible without talented scientists committed to solving some of the world’s most complex issues. With this contribution, we hope to play a role in equipping the scientists, engineers and manufacturing experts of the future with the knowledge and skills to continue the legacy those before them have built.”
The three-story Lilly Science and Technology Center includes 23 smart classrooms and state-of-the-art science labs for students in Wake Tech’s new Biotechnology Associate in Applied Science degree, as well as those in the fast-track, non-degree BioWork certificate program. It’s also the new home of Wake Tech’s Business Analytics degree program, which draws students, many with advanced degrees, for specialized coursework in analytic theory, data mining and predictive modeling. It was the first program of its type at a community college in the U.S.
Also announced today: Funds provided by Lilly will help launch a new workforce collaboration between Wake Tech and nearby Durham Tech, called RTP Bio. RTP Bio includes new credit transfer agreements between the two schools and shared resources for equipment, training and apprenticeship programs.
“RTP Bio will be our mechanism to foster a collective commitment to life science companies in the Research Triangle Park and Durham, Orange and Wake counties,” said Durham Tech President J.B. Buxton. “This initiative enhances biotechnology career opportunities for students and graduates of both Durham Tech and Wake Tech.”
Features of the Lilly Science and Technology Center include:
- A Microbiology Lab offering training in gene therapy, genetics, cell culture, DNA manipulation and industrial microbiology, plus industry-approved procedures for working in research and development
- A Biochemistry Lab for teaching chemical and biochemical testing techniques for raw materials and in-process sampling
- The Lighthouse Aseptic Suite allowing students to learn aseptic and controlled environment practices in a “real world” laboratory space – gowning, sterile gloving and microbial detection, as well as cleaning, pipetting and material transfer.
- The Amgen Co-Laboratory, a unique space where future technologists and industry professionals can collaborate on ideas, new technology and industry trends
- The new Wake Early College of Information and Biotechnologies, where high school students are dually enrolled in high school and college classes to a get head start on promising careers. It opens in Fall 2022.
Several companies and organizations stepped up to support Wake Tech’s biotechnology and life science programs through the partner recognition initiative, Building Tomorrow’s Talent. Sponsored areas in the new facility include the Amgen Co-Laboratory, the FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies Early College Suite, the Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions Aseptic Suite, the Research Triangle Foundation Executive Office Suite and the Sam Taylor BioWork Lab (NCBIO).
Industry leaders talked about the importance of partnerships and the new facility in a video shared at the grand opening.
The $47 million facility was paid for with funds from the 2018 Wake County bond. O’Brien Atkins was the designer, and Rodgers Builders was the construction team.
Wake Tech is North Carolina’s largest community college, serving about 70,000 students each year. Wake Tech currently has six campuses and two training centers across Wake County, with a seventh campus under construction in Wendell.
The Wake Tech Foundation continues to welcome companies as part of its partner recognition program, Building Tomorrow’s Talent. More information can be found at waketech.edu/RTPCampusPartners.