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Gateway Research Park quietly reinventing the world according to Covid

GREENSBORO, NC - JULY 18, 2020 - A mask that sterilizes the air as the wearer breathes.

A method to infuse PPE and other garments so that, even after repeated wash cycles, the materials continue to kill microbes.

A means to detect Covid-19 in the air, as well as a robotic device that can detect the virus in saliva samples without requiring a lab or technician.

These are just a few examples of the innovations being worked out at Gateway Research Park in Greensboro. Gateway Research Park, with two 75-acre campuses in the Triad, is clearinghouse for tech and innovation, bringing together researchers and students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as private companies engaged in the tech and engineering space.

“I’m very proud of the researchers and the scientists who are associated with Gateway and the fact that they are stepping up to the national need here to develop products and strategies to help with the coronavirus,” said Jim Westmoreland, interim director of the dual-campus research center.

“And that there's so much going on here that hopefully will have a near-term and a long-term impact.”

In that near-term, some of the solutions pouring out of GRP include PPE for frontline workers already being produced by one of the research park’s south campus’ largest tenants, Core Technology Molding Corp.

With 10 new full-time employees, Core Tech’s production line in its medical clean room is running 24-hour operations to crank out face shields for medical and dental providers, the U.S. Postal Service, Howard University and East Carolina University, among others.

Nearby, the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering is home to four researchers who have each received $265,000 in N.C. Policy Collaboratory grants for research projects related to the pandemic.

One, awarded to Tetyana Ignatova, is for a handheld device for home use that can detect whether or not a person has been infected.

Another, awarded to Lifeng Zhang and Kristen Dellinger, can detect the virus in the air, both indoors and outdoors.

And Reza Zadegan is working on a robotic device that can detect the virus via a saliva sample without the need for a lab or a technician to conduct the test or analyze the result.

ESC Brands, one of GRP's newest tenants, is working on an additive consumers can throw into the wash with their laundry to kill viruses and bacteria.

"It's like wearing an antiviral mask over your entire body," said Bruce Smyth, managing director for ESC.

The core focus of the operations taking place at GRP is leveraging research into the development of products and devices for market commercialization that address the current problems of today, namely the virus, Westmoreland explained.

“So, we've had a lot of brilliant people that are connected with Gateway Research Park that are in JSNN and tenants of our portfolio of businesses here that really, I think, have stepped up and responded to the call of the need for more effective elements of response and testing equipment for Covid-19,” Westmoreland said.

By John Joyce, Reporter, Triad Business Journal