Innovation and Entrepreneurship

UNC-Chapel Hill startups boost employment, economic development

Startup companies and social ventures connected to UNC-Chapel Hill employ more than 8,500 people in North Carolina.

North Carolina flag flying over South Building.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Startups affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continue to bring jobs and increased revenue to North Carolina communities, according to a biannual report that analyzes the economic impact of the University’s commercial and social ventures.

The analysis conducted in early 2018 indicates an upward growth trend for UNC-Chapel Hill startup companies and social ventures across North Carolina.

The economic impact analysis is conducted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development on behalf of Innovate Carolina, a cross-campus alliance of people and programs that helps Carolina students, faculty and alumni turn their ideas into innovations.

The majority of Carolina startup companies and social ventures are headquartered in the state. This local connection translates into new employment opportunities for North Carolina citizens, modern workforce development opportunities, and an infusion of revenue to companies, local governments and businesses.

As of January 2018, data on UNC-affiliated ventures show:

  •  A 25 percent increase in the total number of ventures (521 compared to 418) since January 2017, with 77 percent of the total ventures launched (399 of 521) still active.
  • 84 percent of active ventures (336 of 399) are headquartered across 21 North Carolina counties, an 8 percent increase in the number of active UNC-affiliated ventures based in the state compared to 311 of such startups at this time in 2017.
  • 94 percent of the $10.6 billion in annual revenue earned by the ventures comes from those headquartered in North Carolina.
  • 70,225 people are employed by these ventures, with 8,569 of these employees located in North Carolina.

The research includes ventures founded by faculty, staff and students during their time at UNC-Chapel Hill or within three years of graduating from or leaving the University.

Nearly 60 of these ventures will be featured on April 12 at the annual UNC Innovation Showcase, where innovators and entrepreneurs affiliated with University will gather with more than 100 investors to pitch their latest ideas for inventions.

“Scientific discoveries, technological advances and social initiatives that begin on campus mature to become next-generation products and services,” said Judith Cone, vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development. “These companies and nonprofits connect the academic world to the marketplace. They not only benefit the economy but also bring live-saving treatments, new medical devices and important inventions to the market where they can improve the lives of more people than would otherwise be possible.”