Billy Morris, a veteran pharmaceutical executive with Bayer, has been selected as the director of the North Carolina BioNetwork Validation Academy.

The academy is part of the state’s efforts to expand the growing pharmaceutical and biotech industry’s presence in North Carolina. Its purpose is to help companies secure validation from the federal government for their facilities.

State officials say the Validation Academy is the first such program in the world.

Based at the new BioNetwork Capstone Center on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus, the program is a joint effort of the North Carolina Community College System BioNetwork, the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers (ISPE) and the N.C. Department of Commerce. Stephen Scott, president of Wake Tech Community College, announced Morris’ appointment.

The state consortium hopes that the academy helps drug firms reduce validation costs, which they say can cost between 5 percent and 9 percent of a plant. By cutting these costs, North Carolina hopes to recruit more new plants or expand existing plants.

Tasked with leading the program is Morris, who retired from Bayer in 1999. He worked for many years as the site manager and vice president of operations for Bayer’s huge plant in Johnston County. (The facility is now operated by Talecris.)

Morris, a member of the ISPE, is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in mechanical engineering. He also graduated from an advanced management training program at the University of Notre Dame.