12.21.2023

Day 11: MCNC’s innovation playbook brings Next IT to NC

12 Days of Broadband Day 11
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In the classic technology adoption lifecycle, Innovators come before Early Adopters. They represent the first who embrace new technologies. MCNC could be characterized earlier than that in the cycle – an organization better known for having a visionary mindset just like the state it calls home.

North Carolina has an incredible history of innovation; First in Flight, Pepsi, Vicks VapoRub, Putt Putt Miniature Golf and the Barcode, just to name a few. These embodiments of modern life helped form the foundation of an innovative state actively committed to developing new ideas, pushing boundaries, and solving problems. MCNC is also one of those important North Carolina innovations.

MCNC was one of the first organizations in America to create a statewide Research and Education Network, or REN. Founded in 1980, our network is one of the longest-running RENs in the country providing high-speed connections and high-performance technologies for education, research, libraries, health care, public safety, and other community anchor institutions in North Carolina. 

About 10.5 million people call North Carolina home, living and working in communities ranging from large metros to rural towns stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains. Despite many geographic and cost barriers over the past four decades, MCNC has been able to thrive and expand their network to all 100 counties of the state – with plans to keep expanding next year. But, MCNC is and has always been more than just a network provider, and this is where our innovation truly exists. 

MCNC aims to make North Carolina the most connected state in the nation by making secure, high-speed internet and technology services more accessible to everyone. MCNC is nimble (as most RENs are) and able to push innovation constrains and do things even before they make sense or people are ready for it. Innovating is about making bets on the weird and outlandish to find those accidental or on-purpose breakthroughs. And, MCNC has done this over and over again as advanced networking has continued to evolve. Quantum computing and networking, application development and integration, and modern data fit neatly into MCNC's current innovation model as well as for most RENs. MCNC Senior Director of Innovation Phil Emer explains that connecting the components of a modern IT infrastructure requires fast, efficient and customizable networking, which also requires experienced engineering and the wisdom of knowing what works, what doesn’t, and what might work. “This is operational innovation, and this is where MCNC thrives,” added Emer. 

MCNC supports high-functioning internet in North Carolina in order to successfully drive digital equity to those who might get left behind and/or are simply forgotten. This approach is purposeful and is a key pillar to the organization’s mission for North Carolina. That mission today sees the important emerging work of tomorrow, with projects such as NCShare, our HERO Project, MCNC Vital Cyber, A.I., quantum computing, and more. This fall, we hosted MCNC Community Day and dedicated this year’s event theme to: A New Wave of Innovation.

There was a buzz of innovation at this year’s event as various panels and distinguished speakers delved into the cutting-edge advancements in technology. Engaging discussions ignited a flurry of ideas with quantum computing emerging as a force that opens up possibilities. 

The topics of A.I. and cybersecurity took stage blending the realms of intelligence with the crucial mission of safeguarding our digital future. The conversations surrounding A.I. painted a picture where machines evolve into creators pushing the boundaries of collaboration between humans and technology. In another panel focused on AgTech we explored how technology is revolutionizing agriculture and sowing the seeds for change. 

As these conversations continue to resonate, we are not just spectators to innovation; we are actively shaping a future where groundbreaking leaps, intelligent machines, creative innovations and sustainable agriculture coexist harmoniously. MCNC Community Day served as a catalyst this fall for shaping the narrative that will define tomorrow and leaves us excited about what’s to come at our next one in 2025. Read more from Day 1 of this year’s 12 Days of Broadband

While MCNC is viewed as a trusted partner in North Carolina and nationwide, and there is still room to bolster relationships, expand connectivity, increase innovation, and improve systems. Innovation requires big thinking, guts, passion, and know-how. MCNC is good at this, and RENs across the country are good at this. MCNC has built a reputation of being a unique technology option to help our customers continue doing great things, and we’ll continue to support them this way into the future.

Return to the 13th annual 12 Days of Broadband >>>

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3021 East Cornwallis Road
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