NCEITA and MCNC will be teaming up to draft a plan for the possible creation of a homeland security technology incubator in Fayetteville.
The NC General Assembly has approved $200,000 for the study, which is to be completed and presented to the Legislature later this fall.
The initiative was also supported by various community development groups in Cumberland County.
The North Carolina Electronics and Information Technology Association and MCNC, which is based in RTP, say the concept could produce new companies and jobs around the booming, high-tech military presence at Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base.
“NCEITA’s idea is to create the homeland security incubator concept, and we are focused on increasing mind share about incubation,” Joan Myers, president and CEO of NCEITA, tells Local Tech Wire. “As a matter of public policy, we believe the state needs to invest more in incubation.”
MCNC has also advocated the incubator as part of its recent proposal put before the General Assembly to create more technology-related jobs across North Carolina.
“The idea is to create an environment where companies that have new technology the military might want to use can develop it and the military can test it,” Dave Rizzo, CEO of MCNC, explains. “The Fayetteville community really wants this, too. It was a grass-roots effort.”
Another challenge for the incubator concept is to examine ways in which entrepreneurs and companies “can interface with the military,” Rizzo adds.
Myers points out that “we have lots of small, emerging companies” who have potential for developing applications and technology that can be used by the military or as part of homeland defense and law enforcement.
The incubator also had the support of State Senator Tony Rand, one of the General Assembly’s most powerful Democrats.
Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force base are home to some of the U.S. Military’s most cutting-edge formations, such as Special Forces and the XVIII Airborne Corps.
Myers says the incubator concept is a first step in trying to find ways for business to integrate better with defense in the state. North Carolina has major Marine Corps bases as well as Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in addition to Fort Bragg.
“North Carolina has three first-strike military bases,” Myers says. “We have some of the best minds in the military. We need to build bridges to that community.
“We also have many military retirees in the state who have technological skills and command experience, They are tremendous assets, which we need to utilize.”