University leaders, governmental officials, business and industry partners and members of the greater community were on campus Friday, Feb. 28, for the formal dedication of the PORTAL building, a facility developed to harness the power of UNC Charlotte to stimulate business growth and job creation.
"As our productivity in research has increased… we realized we would need to, as they say in sports, 'elevate our game’ beyond what the state could do," said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois.
A marriage of vision and practicality, PORTAL is an acronym for Partnership, Outreach and Research to Accelerate Learning. The four-story, 96,000-square-foot facility is located on the Charlotte Research Institute campus near the entrance from North Tryon Street.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, on campus for a business roundtable meeting, championed the University’s vision in developing PORTAL. He said the connection between academia and commerce was critical to economic development.
"Great entrepreneurs build businesses," stated McCrory. "The next Bill Gates could come out of PORTAL, so I applaud this supportive, dynamic partnership."
UNC Charlotte has a long history of connecting with the region and state, particularly through the Charlotte Research Institute, noted Robert Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development. Located in the middle of the Charlotte Research Campus, PORTAL is surrounded by many of the University’s strongest research centers for bioinformatics, metrology, motorsports, biomedical, optoelectronics and energy production, Wilhelm added.
Funding for PORTAL did not involve any state appropriations, noted Dubois.
A number of business partners are located currently in PORTAL to pursue research and development partnerships. Current tenants include Acrowire, Agringo, C5 Insight, Countervail, Driving MBA Ecomdash, Optoniks, Reveille, Vivid Data Group.
PORTAL also houses Ventureprise, a venture development organization formerly known as the Ben Craig Center and one of the first University-based business incubators in the nation. The facility includes space for the University’s Technology Transfer Office and 49er Foundry, a business incubator for students.
Photo by Wade Bruton.