Most people think of the big tech powerhouses as coastal cities like San Francisco, New York, and Seattle. However, at One America Works, we know there is a lot of innovation and economic success happening in cities all over the country. The Research Triangle is a great example of this, where technological innovation is ever-present. Unlike the famed tech hubs, the Raleigh area doesn’t require a tradeoff between opportunity and affordability. Industry giants like SAS, Citrix, IBM, Lenovo, and others call Raleigh home. Additionally, the area houses a myriad of startups where $340 million was raised in 2018.

The area encompassing the Research Triangle has experienced immense growth in recent years. Talent is a big reason why. With NC State, Duke University, and UNC Chapel Hill all minutes away from each other, the three Tier-1 research institutes supply a highly educated talent pool for companies. Thus, with its burgeoning tech growth and deep talent pool, many speculate if this is enough for Raleigh to become the next tech scene giant.

History of the Research Triangle

Once a strong industrial center, the American Tobacco Campus declined into a crime-ridden abandoned set of former industrial spaces. However, this area is no longer an eyesore but rather a shining jewel of green spaces, co-working sites, and startup offices. This is only one of many examples emblematic of the urban revitalization in the area as it becomes a burgeoning tech epicenter.

Silicon Valley itself rose to prominence in the 1970s and 80s during a technological revolution of semiconductors and computing. Many experts cite such technological revolution as a required counterpart to a large talent pool in order for Raleigh to become a bonafide Tech hub. These same experts have noted the astronomical rise of the Internet of Things and its dominating presence in the Raleigh tech scene. No longer consigned to solely tech companies, sensors have diverse use-cases such as refrigerator doors and soil, for example. Experts note that this technological expansion across industries is ripe for opportunity in the Internet of Things space.

Finding Strength in IOT

The Internet of Things might seem like a fun buzzword to throw around, but it’s important to understand its meaning and its role in the Research Triangle’s tech scene’s rise to prominence. Machine-to-machine transmission is no new concept; however, what is new is the means through which that communication occurs. Now having a network as the intermediary, such a network then allows companies to gain access to a wealth of data previously only kept between the two devices. And as what has played out time and time again in the tech scene, with data comes great opportunity for innovation and future developments.

To fully capture this opportunity, one needs not only optimal software and hardware but also the analytic capability to transform this unprecedented amount of data into actionable insights. With a wealth of major industry players such as SAS, IBM, and growing startups such as Precision Hawn and FokusLabs, among others, Raleigh is well positioned to be a major player in the industry of things. It doesn’t hurt, too, to have 3 Tier-1 Research Universities minutes away to provide both talent and further analytical capabilities.

As Raleigh continues to develop into a major player, the group known as NC RioT, which has over 1,400 members, has been instrumental in linking innovative companies with healthcare, academia, and policy makers.

Why Raleigh?

Obviously, talent is a requisite to the Research Triangle’s rise to prominence, so attracting such talent to Raleigh is critical for the region. With the fourth highest number of PhDs in the region and a higher education level than San Francisco, one might wonder what is attracting and retaining this talented workforce in the region. For one? It’s affordable. And when other tech giants are facing housing crises, the ability to afford a high quality of life for many is a strong driver.

For businesses, too, the region is a smart strategic move. Tax incentives, a deep talent pool, and overall cheaper costs of operation all make the Research Triangle a stand-out amongst other East Coast metropolitan areas. Cheaper costs of living means companies can yield significant savings on salaries when companies don’t have to pay big-city salaries.

Looking Forward

While long-hailed as a finance hub, recent developments and specializing in the IOT sub-sector have positioned Raleigh to enjoy more growth. Tech giants such as Apple and Amazon seriously considered the area for their own expansions, and they won’t be the last. Various publications, including Forbes, continue to recognize the area as attractive for both companies and talent alike, and Raleigh itself is quickly adapting to become a significant player in the space. Learn about other growing cities through One America Works, and follow us for more updates.