First Flight Venture Center is proud to announce that Norris Tolson has joined their Board of Directors.  While currently a key member of the Williams Mullen Economic Development team in Raleigh, Tolson headed up the NC Biotechnology Center and held several North Carolina cabinet positions.

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Research Triangle Park, N.C. – June 2, 2015 –  With the total number of high science, high impact startups totaling over 275, First Flight Venture Center (FFVC) has added Norris Tolson as a new Board of Directors’ member to continue increasing their growth and success in the future.  Tolson is also a key element of the Williams Mullen’s Economic Development team in Raleigh.

“Norris Tolson is a phenomenal fit with the FFVC board and we are so fortunate to have him join us,” says Andrew Schwab, President of FFVC.  “His work with key biotech industry players, his experience in the agriculture sector and his other strategic national relationships will enhance our mission and help our startup companies tremendously.”

Tolson is an asset for the William Mullen’s Economic Development team too with his background and vision in the life sciences industry.  A unique law firm, William Mullen blends the law, government relations and economic development to provide their clients with multiple layers of service.  Before joining Williams Mullens, Tolson was a former North Carolina Secretary of Commerce and served as President and CEO of the NC Biotechnology Center for seven years.

While at the NC Biotechnology Center, Tolson emphasized statewide growth of and investment in North Carolina’s life science industry.  In 2009, he launched the Agriculture Biotech Initiative which partnered the state’s largest economic engine with tools of biotechnology together.  His efforts generated a faster creation of high-paying biotech jobs, allowing North Carolina to receive the distinction as having one of the fastest employment growths in top biotech clusters.

“North Carolina is proud of the innovative technology that comes from our very strong research and development community, and FFVC leads the way in helping entrepreneurial leadership get this technology to the consuming public,” said Tolson. “ I am pleased to be able to help with these efforts in this new role.”

Before Tolson headed up the NC Biotechnology Center, he held several North Carolina cabinet positions:  Secretary of the Department of Revenue, Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Secretary of the Department of Commerce.  He also had strategic leadership positions with DuPont and served as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly.


First Flight Venture Center (FFVC) is a technology incubator located in the heart of Research Triangle Park. Established in 1991 to serve the initial needs of entrepreneurs and early-stage companies, FFVC has over 20 years of experience in producing high science, high impact companies that graduate from the facility as financially viable and freestanding businesses. This success lies in First Flight’s turnkey approach—the ability to enable resident clients to reduce both their initial capitalization requirements and their annual operation costs by providing 25,000 square feet of affordable office and laboratory space with flexible leases, shared business services, technology support services, and management guidance and counseling.