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NCRC to work with Catawba College to develop database to target nutrition based businesses


Published Friday, March 17, 2017
by Independent Tribune

 KANNAPOLIS — The North Carolina Research Campus and the scientists at its eight university research centers will soon have a tool to target their business development efforts to companies in need of nutrition research. The program is coming thanks to a Catawba College Information Systems class that is creating a searchable database.

 The students, all from Catawba’s Ketner School of Business, will spend their spring semester on the task.  They are enrolled in Dr. Pamela Thompson’s information systems planning and project management class and will work with North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) Business Development Director Chris Ervin. 

 Ervin, himself a 1983 Catawba alumnus from Catawba’s Ketner School of Business, looked to his alma mater to tap students for the task.

 “In its simplest form, the partnership merges academic learning with industry application,” Ervin said. “The Catawba students are being provided a real life experience that will improve their marketability while fulfilling a core business need of the NCRC.”

 When phase one of the project is completed at the end of April, it will provide those on the Kannapolis campus with a deeper understanding of the nutrition research landscape and the companies that are in the space that may be interested in partnering with the scientists located on the NCRC. Based on Catawba students output, NCRC will build and refine their marketing plan to drive research dollars and product commercialization, according to a press release.

 Catawba students involved in the database development include Rodney Beaty, Russell Brown, Austin Humphries, Crystal Reyes, Brad Smethurst, Jordan Taylor, and Zackary Thompson.

 “It’s not just one class doing a project,” said Jay Abraham, Catawba dean of the Ketner School of Business.  “They’re getting something started that will build the foundation for a three-to-five year continuous improvement plan.  The database will be built upon year after year.”

 Eventually, another group of Catawba marketing students will work with the team at NCRC to develop materials that will be used to market the science, equipment, and expertise available at the Kannapolis campus.

 The completed database will be anything but “static,” according to Catawba student Rusty Brown.  It will evolve and change over time based on changes in the marketplace and the research.  New data can be entered, new relationships indicated between entities, with important milestones noted in the database’s calendaring feature.

 “The database will give us insights into the corporations that want to invest in nutrition research,” said Mark Spitzer, vice president of Castle & Cooke North Carolina Operations at the NCRC.  He added, “Catawba will be part of a five-tiered process for the NCRC development recruitment process.”

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