Driving our state's economy

Not only are Tar Heels improving the lives of North Carolinians by finding solutions to major medical and societal challenges, but they’re also building better opportunities for all residents by creating jobs and bringing business to our state.

Our $1 billion research enterprise alone employs more than 10,000 North Carolinians in 81 counties, conducts business with 6,000 companies in 95 North Carolina counties and brings new industries to rural parts of the state.

The University has also been home to nearly 800 startups — more than half of which are still operating today and headquartered in our state, bringing in more than $14 billion in annual revenue and creating thousands of additional jobs.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, talented students, faculty, researchers and those with entrepreneurial aspirations are moving more ideas forward faster into the world and the commercial market where they can make the greatest impact.

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Kevin Guskiewicz

Carolina's Economic Impact

by the numbers

  • 786Carolina-affiliated startups launched since 1958
  • $14.4 billionin annual revenue earned by Carolina startups in North Carolina
  • 13,516North Carolinians employed by Carolina-affiliated startups
  • 443Carolina startups currently headquartered in North Carolina
  • $15.3in annual revenue earned by Carolina startups
  • $1 billionin research funding, employing over 10,000 North Carolinians in 81 counties
  • 6thmost innovative university in the world, according to Reuters
  • $5.4 millionin licensing revenue in 2020
  • $17.6 billionin funding raised by Carolina startups since 1958

Supporting startups

To help our students, faculty and staff make the biggest impact with their ideas and business ventures, Carolina has developed a large network of support programs, incubators and funding opportunities. With the proper support, Tar Heels can quickly get their ideas to market.

Innovate Carolina brings all of those efforts and supports together. The initiative is a cross-campus alliance of people and programs that gives members of the UNC-Chapel Hill community the knowledge, tools and resources they need to put their ideas into action and thrive.

When Tar Heels succeed, North Carolina succeeds.

Learn more about Innovate Carolina
  • Old Well

    The Carolina Angel Network brings together the UNC-Chapel Hill entrepreneurial community, University alumni network and innovative private companies to empower the businesses that drive our future.

    Learn more about the Carolina Angel Network
  • 1789 written on a glass window.

    1789 is Carolina's central hub of innovation. The space on Franklin Street and its student community combine mentorship and workshops with working space and a collaborative setting to help Tar Heels develop the skills to be entrepreneurs.

    Learn more about 1789
  • A joint effort between Carolina's Kickstart Venture Services and Duke University's New Ventures Program, the new Entrepreneurial Startup Hub provides startups with access to an entrepreneurial ecosystem, a joint talent network and an established database of service providers.

    learn more about the hub

Launch Chapel Hill

Among the largest economic development programs at Carolina is Launch Chapel Hill. The startup accelerator focuses on mentorship and educational programming and offers tech resources, office space and amenities to innovators and entrepreneurs who need a steady foundation to grow their startups.

Since opening in 2013, Launch has supported 153 companies that have generated nearly $69 million dollars in revenue and raised $38.4 million in total funding. Its ventures employ 802 people, including 684 in North Carolina and 435 in Orange County.

People work at Launch Chapel Hill.

Having that front door where someone can come in and start focusing on their business is huge. It creates jobs for people in the local community. It creates a tax revenue increase, and we can then pour that back into the town and the county so we can create more programs and services.

Velvet Nelson, director of Launch

Velvet Nelson stands by the door of Launch Chapel Hill.

Launched startups

Learn more about Launch
  • Mary Laci Motley working at a concession stand.


    Eats2Seats is a staffing business that offers a simple fundraising solution for nonprofits. Founded by a recent graduate, Eats2Seats aims to enhance concession stand efficiency, improve fan's in-game experience and invest in the community.

  • Alex Brandwein stands in Brandwein's Bagels.

    Brandwein's Bagels

    Carolina graduate Alex Brandwein made the switch from investment banking and private equity to founding a Chapel Hill brick-and-mortar bagel shop in the middle of a pandemic.

  • Sha Chang


    EmpowerRT helps people in developing countries to improve radiation cancer treatment without spending millions of dollars. It provides UNC-developed clinically tested software, personalized device fabrication know-how and training to improve cancer treatment quality similar to modern technology but at 5-10% of the cost.

  • IndyCare

    Created by a Carolina alumnus, IndyCare transforms independent pharmacies into collaborative health care hubs that communities look to for acute care, screenings, diagnostics and holistic support and insight into how to be well and stay well.