Archive for December, 2010
RTI International, a nonprofit anchor in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, has taken another cue from the corporate world. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, the research institute named its first executive in charge of mergers and acquisitions.
Michele “Mikki” Leach, 39, is an accountant who joined RTI three years ago.
After moving to Raleigh in 1995 in search for warmer weather, the Michigan native gained deal making expertise at Progress Energy, the only Fortune 500 company with headquarters in the Triangle, and at Waste Industries, where she oversaw financial reporting functions until in 2008 management with the help of investment bankers took the publicly traded company private.
As RTI’s M&A director, her responsibilities are to identify new markets, services and technologies, to evaluate and negotiate deals and then to buy or to sell.
Expect her and her team to step up deal flow in a systematic manner.
“Mergers and acquisitions is a critical component for any company that wants to grow,” Leach said in an interview with Science in the Triangle. “In order to make sure we were doing it in a thoughtful and methodical way and to make sure we were acquiring the right targets for RTI strategically and culturally, we felt that a corporate group would help us do that.”
In the past decade, RTI has increasingly copied from the business world.
Contracts with federal agencies, from the National Institutes of Health to the Department of Defense, still generate about 85 percent of RTI’s annual revenue. But business with commercial customers has risen right along with business with federal customers as the research institute’s annual revenue more than doubled to $718 million from 2000 to 2009.
In 2000, RTI established the first separate business unit to boost revenue from commercial customers. RTI Health Solutions caters to pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies. Two years later, RTI made its first acquisition – a Boston company that used health insurance claims data for health economics research purposes.
At least six other acquisitions have followed since then, the last one last year to broaden RTI Health Solutions’ reach in getting federal contracts.
But RTI has also ramped up research into green technology and alternative fuels. (More about that here and here.) Some of that research has resulted in technologies that RTI would like to sell or bring to market with a business partner, a situation where a director for M&A could be of help.
Watch the interview with Leach to find out what she plans to do:
A few weeks ago, I reported on water quality expert Kenneth Reckhow’s concern that we will be unable to achieve water quality standards set by states in response to the Clean Water Act. Municipal water treatment plants have been improved “to the limits of technology,” he said, and additional cleanup was going to have to happen with somewhat unlikely changes like limiting development, changing farming practices, and prohibiting lawn fertilizers.
Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss the challenges of cleaning wastewater from the perspective of an entrepreneur who has been working with municipalities and industry to improve treatment plant performance. Wayne Flournoy is cofounder and president of Entex Technologies, a Chapel Hill company that designs systems for upgrading wastewater treatment plants or for new plants. Read more…