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April 03, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Acquirer of Silicon Valley Bank boosts North Carolina, but could also impact a larger region

First Citizens Bank's acquisition of the failed "bank for start-ups" helps the already hot Research Triangle area, but the bank also has two West Knoxville offices.

A region that is already a technology hotspot, and has been for years, just got a significant boost last week when Raleigh-based First Citizens Bank acquired most of the remaining assets of Silicon Valley Bank. Whether it was Joanna Glasner writing in Crunchbase News, a national publication, or Sara Glover writing for Raleigh-based WRAL TechWire, the announcement drew significant interest in terms of its implications for Tar Heel state in particular but the larger region, too.

And, with First Citizens having two West Knoxville locations, what could be the implication for our community? Obviously, time will tell, but one would think it cannot be bad.

Glasner wrote that “the Research Triangle Region, anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill, draws the majority of venture funding that goes to North Carolina. The Charlotte area, a major financial hub that’s home to Bank of America, is a somewhat distant second. Research Triangle was already a region on most venture investors’ radar, home to both Fortnite publisher Epic Games and a well-funded cluster of life sciences companies. It’s also home to two universities — Duke University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — which rank in the top 15 nationally for R&D spending. Plus, per Crunchbase data, there are at least 40 venture firms, banks, and other institutions based in the state that have made one or more startup investments since last year.”

She added that North Carolina was one of just a few states that saw an increase in venture funding last year – $1 billion going to the start-ups within its borders. The acquisition will most likely position North Carolina for a higher profile and a resulting expansion for one of the nation’s fastest-growing metros for venture investment.

Glover quoted a number of those involved in the Research Triangle region’s innovation ecosystem, including Tom Snyder, Executive Director of RIoT, who told her that “this could be an example of how the Triangle is replacing Silicon Valley as the next big tech hub.”

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