Server Farm Coming To Kannapolis Biotech Campus

Jun 12, 2013

A view of the North Carolina Research Campus from a window in the Core Laboratory building. A 50,000 square foot data center will soon be built on the campus.
Credit Ben Bradford / WFAE

The Kannapolis research campus founded by Dole Foods magnate David Murdock has announced its first new corporate tenant in two years. But it's not the kind of company you'd expect for a place focused on health and food science. 

The North Carolina Research Campus is home to outposts of General Mills and Monsanto. What goes better with cereal and seeds than, well, computer servers

Yep, the biotech hub is getting its very own data center.

"Although they are not necessarily a nutrition or health care research organization, they definitely are part of the cog in this machine, if you will," says NCRC Vice president of Business Development Clyde Higgs.

The original vision for the research campus was a "Biopolis" where thousands of university and private scientists would collaborate in state-of-the-art laboratories. Progress has been slow, partly because of the recession. Only five companies are on the research campus, along with teams from nine universities. That amounts to some 400 people. 

DataChambers won't help much in the headcount department, since its 50,000 square foot warehouse full of computers will only need about 20 people to babysit it.  But Higgs thinks it'll help entice new partners to the Kannapolis campus: "It just promotes that one-stop shop of capabilities here."

From a customer's perspective, it doesn't technically matter where a data center is located. That's the nature of "cloud solutions." But, having DataChambers right there on campus could lend a certain ease of access to other campus tenants.

Mainly, though, it's part of this biotech "field of dreams" that continues, for now, to rely on the largesse of its founder, David Murdock of Dole Foods.