On a Friday morning in late January, students, faculty and local entrepreneurs gathered on NC State’s Centennial Campus for a brunch announcing a partnership with HQ Raleigh. The partnership will open 20,000 square feet of space on the campus, which will house the relocated “Entrepreneurship Garage” for students as well as adding more office and co-working space for HQ Raleigh members.
“NC State has been an invaluable partner for HQ Raleigh since our inception seven years ago, including housing NC State’s Entrepreneurship Clinic and multiple programmatic collaborations,” said Christopher Gergen, one of HQ Raleigh’s co-founders. “This new chapter in our partnership marks an incredible opportunity to expand our reach and deepen our impact for NC State students, within Raleigh, and across the Triangle.”
On March 1, the doors will officially open with about 30 office suites and a convening space. At this point they will begin the process of bringing new companies in and developing relationships among these businesses, HQ Raleigh and the university. The high-bay space, a 10,000 square foot area with a mezzanine, 30-foot ceilings, and a bar and cafe area, which Jason Widen says will bring the space’s “cool factor,” will open in May or June, as construction allows.
The project will be housed in what had been an industrial space for textiles in the Partners I Building and will take a major overhaul to remake the space according to organizer’s vision. The brunch was held in the building, with detailed renderings of the space displayed for attendees to view as they ate and networked.
Dr. Tom Miller, who heads-up entrepreneurship efforts on Centennial Campus, gave opening remarks.
‘’I must proudly announce (if you haven’t heard, you’ve been under a rock) that N.C. State has been named by the Princeton Review as the 11th best entrepreneurship program in the nation,” Miller said. “That’s up from number 19 last year and below the charts the year before. So, look at that trajectory. And I do believe that this partnership is going to be the catalyst that launches us into the top 10 next year.”
Tom Miller told a story about how a man named Bob Young called him and wanted to start a Linux convention in Raleigh, wondering if NC State could help. Miller assisted him successfully running this convention, and then in 1995, Young decided to take over a local company called Red Hat to “try to make it into a real company.” Red Hat’s success was incubated on the Centennial Campus, and with Miller and NC State’s assistance, became a major global tech player.
“Now we have the world’s leading open source software company, which as you know was just acquired by IBM for $34 billion here in Raleigh as a result of things that happened here years ago,” said Miller. “Well, there are many more of those kind of partnerships in the works. The next Red Hat story may come out of what we’re doing here today.”
The event continued with a panel discussion consisting of Jason Widen, HQ Raleigh founding member; Megan Greer, assistant vice provost and managing director of NC State Entrepreneurship; Jeff Banini, associate vice chancellor for Real Estate and Development at NC State; and Leah Burton, director of Centennial Campus Partnership Office and Industry Alliances. The discussion was moderated by Tom Snyder, executive director of RIOT, an “internet of things” company operating out of HQ Raleigh.
“We’re not just thinking of this as what it is today. We’re thinking of this three, four, five, 10 years from now, as a Cambridge Innovation Village of the South,” said Jason Widen during the panel, referencing the entrepreneurial network in New England that opens more businesses than any other.
Tom Snyder joked, “We’re hoping that Cambridge Innovation Village will start to think of themselves as the HQ of the North.”
In addition to this project on campus, HQ will be opening another space in Raleigh this year at Gateway Plaza off of Capital Boulevard. 2019 promises to be another big year of developments for the HQ Raleigh community.