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INNOVATION AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Carolina is a place where innovators and entrepreneurs make a human, social and economic impact. We make purposeful transformations in the world by putting important ideas to use for the public good.

In the heart of an innovation district

At Carolina, innovation happens at the intersection of campus and community. Just a few steps from our classrooms and labs, you find yourself in downtown Chapel Hill’s quickly emerging innovation district. This is where promising startups, innovation-oriented companies and impact-driven non-profits come to grow and converge with talented students and faculty. It’s a place where local entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and top researchers coalesce to find inventive ways to work together. New markets emerge, careers expand and businesses thrive. In Chapel Hill, college town means entrepreneurial epicenter.

 

Franklin Street

A hub for your innovation and impact

Carolina innovators are solving some of the world’s biggest problems. Through their ingenuity, they provide economic and social value in North Carolina and beyond: creating jobs, finding cures, combating diseases, fighting poverty, eliminating hunger, providing clean water and promoting social justice.

Innovate Carolina is the University-wide initiative for innovation and entrepreneurship that provides a full-scale innovation hub for today’s impact-driven problem solvers. Our suite of services and resources are designed for students, faculty, alumni and people in local communities who want to launch startup companies, take new research discoveries to market and move important initiatives into the world.

QUVI founders Kush Jain (right) and Harshul Makwana (left) working on their initial water bottle sanitation prototype for the UNC Makeathon.

Wherever you are on your innovation journey, Innovate Carolina provides the entrepreneurial tools and know-how to make your ideas work.

Explore our campus- and community-based resource directory. And connect with our innovation hub to take advantage of services that can help you take your impact-driven ideas further, faster:

A person uses a 3D printer.
  • 814total Carolina-affiliated startups launched
  • $17.8 billionin total funding raised by Carolina startups
  • 6thmost innovative university in the world (Reuters)
  • $14.4 billionin annual revenue earned by UNC-Chapel Hill startups (2020-21)
  • 1,000+U.S. patents issued to Carolina inventors
  • 446Carolina-affiliated startups headquartered in North Carolina
  • 12,000+people employed by UNC-Chapel Hill startups across 29 North Carolina counties (2020-21)

Economic development for Carolina communities

Tar Heels don’t rest idly on campus. We’re busy making our communities better places to work and live. Our passion for economic and community impact is reflected in the Carolina Economic Development Strategy, a top-tier, Chancellor-level initiative and a partnership between the University and Town of Chapel Hill. Together, we’re accelerating downtown’s economic vibrancy, expanding career opportunities for students, and broadening the University’s partnerships with businesses, research organizations and government agencies.

Find out how you can get involved with other students, alumni, startups, established businesses and non-profits to:
• Beautify downtown
• Develop an innovation district
• Open innovation hub spaces in Chapel Hill and beyond

EXPLORE CAROLINA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY