“The cycle from the call to the connection took a number of phone calls to deans, department chairs, professors and administration to ascertain the best match for the inquirer. These calls could span over several days to find the right expert. As director of marketing and public affairs at IES, I assumed that responsibility and became the point person. I would have saved a good deal of my and others’ time had REACHNC.org been a reality.” – RuthAnn Cage, Director of Industry and Economic Development, East Carolina University.
Until REACH NC, researchers, administrators, business leaders and others trying to find experts or assess the state’s expertise in a field had to depend on their own social networks or pore through multiple online systems. The desire to develop a better system is not new; however, REACH NC is the first comprehensive system that capitalizes on emerging technologies, efficient processes, and strategic relationships to provide a near real-time view of North Carolina assets and capabilities.
The project began in December 2009, when a team from North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) received a grant from UNC General Administration to launch an expertise profiling project. Since then, the team has worked to compile data on university research teams, sponsored research programs, courses, and intellectual property, with an eye towards creating quality and sustainable profiles. Collexis, the vendor partner in REACH NC development, was acquired by Elsevier during the development process, thereby merging the project’s two main corporate partners.
Duke University has been an integral part of REACH NC since November 2010, and Duke faculty experts are now included on the live REACH NC site. REACH NC currently includes experts representing 17 universities in the UNC system, Duke, North Carolina Research Campus, and RTI. Discussions are underway with other North Carolina research entities to expand REACH NC’s vision even further.
In Spring 2012, the NC TraCS Institute at UNC Chapel Hill funded by NCATS, NIH for the CTSA program, began implementation of the eagle-i system as a tool for locating a broad spectrum of campus research resources. Concurrently, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center offered REACH NC an opportunity to assume responsibility for its North Carolina Core Facilities database, which contains information on assets from universities across the state. In 2013 a team at the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), UNC-Chapel Hill, and Harvard collaborated to further develop the technology used to integrate it into current system. With the direction of the University of North Carolina System and the help of the UNC System campuses, we have compiled data on core laboratories, databases, protocols, and more.
REACH NC’s core purpose is to serve the citizens of North Carolina by offering an unprecedented level of useful information on university and research institution capacities in an efficient and sustainable manner.