Editor’s note: Joe Magno is Executive Director, the North Carolina Center of Innovation Network, which is a partner with WRAL TechWire.

GREENSBORO, N.C. – To some it might seem surprising that four of the 23 universities named as sites and awarded grants under the National Science Foundation’s National Nanotechnology Coordinating Infrastructure Program were in North Carolina. It seems that slowly and surely, over the past 20 or so years North Carolina has been developing into a hotbed for Nano related research and development.

When the National Science Foundation announced the 23 sites that would be included in the NNCI, Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, and the Joint School for Nanoscience and Nanoengineering joined the national consortium that included Stanford, Harvard, U Texas, U Mass, and 16 others considered to be leading institutions in the rapidly growing field of science that has applications across every major industry.

For large and small North Carolina companies, having access to this national network supported by the NSF means that along with access to the specialized tools and experts residing here in North Carolina, they will also have access to literally thousands of tools and experts across the country working to develop and commercialize new products and processes in application areas in the life and material sciences. The availability of these valuable resources will impact advances across a wide range of industries including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronics, information technology, and more.

Over 80 of the top researchers and thought leaders gathered the week of Jan. 16 to discuss progress and plans at the first full Site and Board meeting of the NNCI that was held in Atlanta. Their discussions included the far-reaching impact of advances in Nanotechnology which were demonstrated by presentations from scientists and researchers from across the country engaged in research, development and commercialization of Nano based products and services. Topics covered included advanced robotics, cancer research, development of medical devices and more. Other issues that were discussed included developing more educational programs and resources for K-12 and beyond to assure that Nano related industries will continue to build the needed, skilled human resources as Nano-enabled industries continue to grow.

At last count North Carolina has well over 100 nanotechnology focused companies including Cree, Qorvo, Phononic, Liquidia, and many more, and hundreds more that leverage Nano…

You could say that Nano is a really big industry in our State that’s focused on really small things!