Is North Carolina the Silicon Valley of the South?
While Silicon Valley remains the unquestionable leader in technology development, regions throughout the United States are encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, in an effort to facilitate job creation.
Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York have built burgeoning tech hubs and others like Chicago and Orlando are also on their way. Now with over 400 startups, Raleigh, N.C. is positioning itself to become a entrepreneurial center of the south.
Large software companies like SAS Institute and Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) call the Tar Heel state home. And $349 million was invested in 56 venture capital transactions in North Carolina last year, according to the National Venture Capital Association.
“Raleigh consistently ranks as one of the top places to do business, live and work, and we have seen tremendous growth over the past decade,” said Adrienne Cole, Wake County Economic Development Executive Director. “To build on this momentum, the city has set a goal to become one of the country’s top five hubs for entrepreneurship and we believe we are well on our way – with the region’s strong history and culture of innovation, highly-educated workforce and three tier-one universities.”
An educated applicant pool graduating from colleges such as Duke and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have proven to be beneficial for the startup community. “The amount of available talent that comes out of those universities is a great thing for the tech industry,” said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, during a video interview with FOXBusiness.com.
North Carolina has “world class infrastructure, world class research and good leadership,” said Mark Yusko, founder and CEO of Morgan Creek Capital Management. It has “all the makings of a great tech scene, but it is still emerging.”
One company helping the startups get on that track is Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS), who helped launch a startup accelerator mentorship program in the region last year with financial support from Red Hat and the city of Raleigh.
“Raleigh is one of the nation’s best places to start a business because of the wealth of intellectual capital, low cost of doing business and the incredible lifestyle the area has to offer,” said Jesse Lipson, VP and General Manager of Workflow and Workspace Clouds for Citrix, who started Raleigh-based ShareFile and sold the company to Citrix in 2011.
“My long-term goal is to help entrepreneurs grow and keep talent in the area, which is why Citrix has partnered with others in the region to launch initiatives like the Citrix-Red Hat Innovators Program, HQ Raleigh and ThinkHouse,” which are other mentoring programs and coworking spaces.
Like Boston, a lot of North Carolina’s startups are science-related. Recent IPOs have included NephroGenex (NASDAQ:NRX), Argos Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ARGS) and Heat Biologics (NASDAQ:HTBX). ChannelAdvisor (NYSE:ECOM), an e-commerce solutions provider that went public in 2013, is also located in the state.
Now North Carolina, a noted center for banking, the home of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and formerly Wachovia, may be relying on its bankers to bring more startups public in a few years.