This week, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a significant step in launching a full-scale innovation center when the UNC Board of Governors approved the University’s lease for approximately 20,000 square feet of space in the building located at 136 East Rosemary. Street that Grubb Properties is renovating and reinventing in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill. The University’s innovation center will be home to innovate carolina, the UNC-Chapel Hill core team that provides strategic guidance and practical tools and resources to support individuals and organizations on campus and in the community that make economic and social impact through innovation, entrepreneurship, and development. economic development. The building will also house other high-tech and life sciences companies, creating new opportunities for collaborations between industry and academia.
The UNC-Chapel Hill center will share the University’s programming that supports innovation, entrepreneurship and its research-to-market pipeline with a start-up accelerator, co-working space and collaborative business environment for industry and community partners. The center will offer major corporate innovation centers opportunities to team with Carolina researchers and connect with the University’s significant pool of innovation talent to create cross-functional solutions to business and societal challenges. Startups, small businesses, nonprofits, corporations, and investors will use the center to work closely with students, faculty, and inventors to create new businesses, products, services, and technologies. This space is expected to open in the second quarter of 2023. Innovate Carolina is now accepting inquiries of interest from organizations and individuals who may be interested in joining the center through individual subscriptions and program memberships.
“Collaboration spurs innovation, particularly when we combine the knowledge and research expertise of faculty and students with the market-driven expertise of business leaders, alumni and major industry partners,” said Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “The Chapel Hill hub is full of opportunities for strategic collaborations, and the work our local Carolina community leaders are doing together will make the new innovation center a place where we can nurture talent for Carolina’s future workforce. from North. Our teams of strategists and innovation professionals are moving research and ideas from campus to the world to make a real impact.”
The center is part of Carolina Economic Development Strategy, which is designed to create a downtown innovation district that will retain, attract and grow more innovation-driven businesses and talent in Chapel Hill. This effort is led by Innovate Carolina and two city gown committees comprised of university, city, and community leaders. The new innovation center will serve as an anchor for the district and spark job creation, industry partnerships accelerating research-driven new products, experiential learning for student entrepreneurs, and the establishment and growth of startups and focused nonprofits. in creating social services and economic goods.
“The Innovation Center is a central part of our shared plan to make Chapel Hill an even more attractive place for companies and individual professionals looking for a place to grow their ideas and expand their businesses,” said the Mayor of the City of Chapel Hill. Pam Hemminger. “We have made great strides in improving our infrastructure and increasing available office space to begin transforming downtown into a vibrant district of innovation where people from across our community can come together and find new avenues to thrive. ”.
biolaboratories, a premier co-working space for life sciences startups, will also be located at Grubb Properties’ 136 Rosemary Street building and adjoining 137 East Franklin Street. Announced last fall, BioLabs and the University are developing a strategic partnership to create a greater number of new companies based on UNC-Chapel Hill faculty research. The partnership will involve collaboration with the Innovate Carolina campus KickStart Accelerator for life sciences companies. BioLabs’ presence in the downtown innovation district offers an attractive avenue for faculty-founded startups looking for larger shared office and lab settings when they outgrow the company’s first on-campus spaces.
An innovation center for everyone
Members of the Chapel Hill Innovation Center will be able to choose from a variety of workspace options, including floating desks and co-working areas, private offices, conference rooms, a training room, business center, and areas for events and networks. Through these creative environments, the center will offer programming and opportunities to connect and collaborate with a wide range of people and organizations interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Startups and small businesses. Early-stage companies and small businesses can participate in startup accelerator programming, use collaborative workspaces, and forge connections with a large network of business advisors, talented students, researchers, and strategic business partners.
- Corporations. Larger companies can explore opportunities to partner with university researchers on new discoveries emerging from on-campus labs, de-risk research that may be connected to commercial pathways, and connect with innovation-driven students.
- Faculty and Students. Through the center, faculty can forge resourceful partnerships with the research and development divisions of corporate leaders, while students can experience learning opportunities that come from working with other student entrepreneurs and companies in need of interns, interns, and future employees.
- Students. Carolina alumni can use the center as a physical space to stay connected to the University, securing a regular remote office for themselves or their companies, or reserving professional space to use when traveling to Chapel Hill.
- remote workers. The center will also provide local remote workers, whether they work in corporate jobs or freelance, flexible workspaces where they can work independently or in group collaboration settings.
Innovation programs and services
Beyond physical workspaces, the center will offer a full suite of business and innovation-focused programs and services. These will be provided by Innovate Carolina’s team of seasoned entrepreneurial professionals and a group of campus and community partners.
“The new hub of the hub is where we will put innovation into practice by equipping all kinds of organizations and individuals in the Chapel Hill community with the business tools, skills and methods they need to activate and scale their ideas,” said Sheryl Waddell, Carolina’s interim director of economic development. “Whether you are a sole proprietor, a small start-up or a multinational corporation, the center will offer programs and services that help you move new products and services to the commercial market or to social impact faster and with greater focus.”
Programs and services offered at the innovation center will include:
- Startup accelerator program. The innovation center will be the new home for Chapel Hill Launchthe award-winning accelerator created through a partnership between the University, the City of Chapel Hill, and Orange County that provides workspaces, mentorship for resident entrepreneurs, technology resources, networks, and access to professional services.
- Design thinking. Human-centered design experts will deliver workshops and custom sessions that help individual innovators and organizations of all sizes use proven methods to identify customer needs earlier and develop more focused technologies, products and services.
- Patent landscaping and market research. A team of research experts who have worked with hundreds of inventors, startups, and entrepreneurs will provide custom analytical reports and insights that assess market readiness, competitive landscape, pricing models, and potential partners and financing.
- Business development services. Innovate Carolina’s venture services include event-related programs such as industry workshops and focus groups, advisor pitch meetings and reverse pitches, along with project-focused initiatives such as student scholarship programs, grants and business development.
- Talent recruitment. Innovate Carolina’s student innovation programs help innovation-driven startups, small businesses, and organizations connect with some of the most entrepreneurial students to explore internships, experiential learning, and other career paths.
Organizations and individuals interested in learning more about the innovation hub or getting involved in the downtown district can contact Innovate Carolina through an online interest form. Innovate Carolina is working to connect interested parties with potential opportunities to get involved.
(Note: This story was originally published on https://innovate.unc.edu/unc-chapel-hill-innovation-hub-gets-green-light-speeds-economic-development-downtown/ )