In 1984, biotechnology was anything but a household word, especially in North Carolina. Nonetheless, a group of Tarheel visionaries saw the future as it might be and set about to make it happen. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center was created that year by the state legislature as the nation's first private, nonprofit organization to further research, economic development, and education in biotechnology. Since its founding, the center has distributed approximately $174 million.

Charles Hamner remembers when the state's national standing in biotech was very different. "When I became president of the Biotechnology Center in 1988, there were two North Carolina companies offering biotech products and about a half dozen just getting started," he recalls. Hamner and his colleagues recognized the potential for biotechnology to bring economic development to the state...

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