Dear Carolina Community,
For years, UNC-Chapel Hill has been a place where people come together to find solutions to the world’s problems, to test ideas by running experiments, and to produce information that can benefit the lives of people around the world. We know that ideas are only important if they can make an impact. Our mission of service means that our teaching and research can’t only be in pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. It must be about benefiting the lives and well-being of others.
As a result, we believe in the power of innovation. We are in the business of change, discovery and introducing new methods and new ideas out into the world. Over the past decade, we have invested in this work through Innovate Carolina, building one of the strongest university innovation networks in the country. By bringing together thousands of innovators and entrepreneurs both across campus and throughout our region, we have become one of the top universities in the country for innovation (#6 according to Reuters).
Carolina innovators are having an impact on our state. There have been 939 UNC-affiliated startups launched since the late 1950s when the tracking for such statistics at the university started, with 576 of those startups still active today. Of the 576 active UNC startups, 475 companies are in 31 counties across North Carolina. Globally in 2023, UNC startups are so far responsible for creating over 106,000 jobs and $18.4 billion in revenue.
This week, we are opening our new home for innovation at Carolina. The Innovate Carolina Junction will be a central hub for our entire network of innovators and entrepreneurs to come together to solve problems. The goal is to amplify impact by translating our research into new therapies, treatments, devices or other commercial products, by creating new jobs started by our faculty, students and staff, and by serving the public good. The Junction is located right on Franklin St. and is the only hub in the United States located immediately adjacent to a top-five public university. It will give us important new ways to connect between our campus and the greater Chapel Hill region.
Innovation is one of those buzzy words that people use so often that it loses its meaning. We think of innovation in business development, or innovation in medicine, or innovation in our research. Yet innovation touches every part of the work we do here at UNC-Chapel Hill. Professors are innovating in the classroom, students are innovating in their thesis projects, and our researchers are innovating in the questions they are trying to answer. Each of us has a role to play in innovation across our campus.
I want to thank all of our partners who are making the Innovate Carolina Junction possible, including the town of Chapel Hill, Durham Tech Community College and the members of the Innovate Carolina team.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz