Marano Fellows Class of 2012

Name: John Balchunas

Workforce Development Director


North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Location: North Carolina
Industry Sector: Biotechnology
Type of Organization: State Funded Private Non-Profit

Organizational Background & Mission: The oldest new-technology organization of its kind in the world, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation created by the State in 1984 and supported by the General Assembly dedicated to biotechnology-based economic development. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center's mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide. The Biotechnology Center has three core programs focused on catalyzing industry growth and creating jobs by supporting innovative research, nurturing the growth of new companies, and by building the state’s capacity to provide an educated workforce to foster the recruitment and growth of biotechnology business.

With respect to building an educated workforce, The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Education and Training Program addresses these goals primarily through programs—both ongoing and ad hoc—that build the capability of educational institutions at all levels to deliver appropriate education and training.

Interest in Sector Work: While the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Education and Training Program works to build the state’s biotechnology workforce capacity through many endeavors at all educational levels, we have also played a critical role in ensuring the success of an industry-driven solution for the biomanufacturing sector.

North Carolina is home to a bioscience community consisting of approximately 58,000 employees at 500 companies. Approximately 18,695 people are employed in a cluster of companies that share similarities in jobs, process technology, and regulatory oversight. This “biomanufacturing” sector has good paying jobs attainable by individuals transitioning out of North Carolina’s traditional industries.

In response to demand from industry leaders and a recognition that the biomanufacturing cluster needed more qualified workers, the Biotechnology Center played a lead role in securing $70 Million in state funding to develop NCBioImpact ( in 2003.

This first-of-its-kind training program combines the expertise of The North Carolina Biotechnology Center, industry representation from the North Carolina Biosciences Organization, and the state’s university and community college systems. NCBioImpact has also received approximately $13 Million through in-kind donations of employee time and equipment and additional state funds for operating expenses. This investment has paid off, as:

  • Biomanufacturing companies who have established operations in North Carolina have all cited workforce capabilities as a major deciding factor.
  • Biomanufacturing employers in the Research Triangle Park region of the state are able to recruit approximately 90% of their new hires locally.
  • In 2011 alone, the NCBioImpact provided training to over 200 companies.
  • High levels of collaboration continue between universities, community colleges, and the state’s biomanufacturing industry.