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Membership of Greensboro nanomanufacturing consortium expected to more than double

MARCH 2015 - Membership at a Greensboro consortium that provides businesses with access to advanced equipment and expertise from local scientists is expected to more than double over the next four or five years.

The Nanomanufacturing Innovation Consortium, established in 2013, has already amassed a collection of 30 members, including Greensboro-based apparel company VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC), International Textile Group Inc.’s Burlington and Cone Denim divisions, High Point-based Banner Life Sciences and Kepley Biosystems.

And the number of member companies and organizations could easily rise to “75 or more," over the next four or five years, said James Ryan, founding dean of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in Greensboro. The school is a collaboration between N.C. A&T State University and UNC-Greensboro.

“I would like to see us recruit 10 or 12 per year,” Ryan said of the consortium. “We reach out to companies that we think might benefit from what we do here, but more and more as we become better known, people have come to us.”

Ryan said interest in the consortium has grown so much that the joint school is regularly in talks with several potential member companies, largely through exposure at events and tours at the JSNN's 105,000-square-foot facility at 2907 E. Lee St.

A couple of companies are at the facility every day, Ryan said, noting: "Sometimes they are members, sometimes they are new."

Companies that join the consortium pay an annual $5,000 “affiliate” membership fee that provides them with access to equipment such as electron microscopes, spectrometers and chemical analysis machines within the joint school's labs. And they don't work on the equipment all at the same time.

"People register to use the equipment even after normal working hours,” Ryan said.

Potential consortium members also can come from outside the Triad as well as the state, he said.

“We are trying to show them that Greensboro is a good place to do business, and maybe they will locate part of their company here,” Ryan said.

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering is located at Gateway University Research Park.

By Katie Arcieri, Reporter, Triad Business Journal