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Overview – University of the People 7

The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill is an original member of “The Triangle,” a group of three universities—North Carolina State University, Duke University,Universityof North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The research facilities of these universities and the educated workforce they provide have historically served as a major attraction for businesses located in and around the region, which came to be known in the 1950s as the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina.

Currently, the entrepreneurship program at UNC, Chapel Hill is driven byChancellor Folt and Interim Vice Chancellor of Commercialization and Economic Development Judith Cone. Judith Cone was invited to campus in 2010 by our previous Chancellor  Holden Thorpe to create and lead the I&E programming at UNC. Chancellor Thorpe and Judith Cone assembled the Chancellor’s Innovation Circle-- this group along with the Faculty Working Group and the Chancellor’s Student Innovation Team launched what would be an era of exploration and discovery for UNC’s innovation community. Even before the university understood it’s potential to be an Innovation Hub, it prided itself on being “the University of the people” which now we have discovered to be our key differentiator, both asan universityand an innovation hub.

The “University of the People” ethos extends to the current structure of the entrepreneurship programs at UNC, Chapel Hill. Entrepreneurship has moved from the exclusive domains of the business and engineering schools to the people, as the university moves to institutionalize a campus-wide culture of entrepreneurship.

Along with the students, the faculty is also encouraged to think entrepreneurially. Since the early days of our I&E ecosystem, an invitation only faculty boot camp sponsored by the Chancellor affords 20 faculty members (at a time) the opportunity to develop their business ideas. Support services include assistance with business plans and workshops. Students are also given opportunities to translate their entrepreneurial plans into viable commercial ventures.

As our ecosystem has flourished and grown, centers have been created in departments across the university. In an effort to foster collaboration between these different groups and to focus their entrepreneurial energy to shape university policy to create a more inclusive, diverse, active I&E ecosystem on campus Innovate Carolina was formed. Innovate Carolina is led by Judith Cone who is now the Interim Vice Chancellor of Economic Development and Commercialization (a position that resulted from the demonstrated need for institutional focus on I&E).

The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Kenan-Flagler Business School is UNC Chapel Hill’s flagship entrepreneurial program. The Center offers staff, faculty, and especially students the resources to identify and evaluate valuable entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Office of Technology Development (OTD) is UNC, Chapel Hill’s technology transfer office.  OTD advances UNC, Chapel Hill’s mission to encourage innovation and disseminate knowledge. Principally, the OTD serves the UNC Chapel Hill community and the public by licensing innovations developed by faculty, students and staff.

In addition to encouraging university wide entrepreneurial culture, UNC, Chapel Hill believes there is still a strong role for the government in promoting innovation and commercialization at the nation’s universities. This role includes increasing funding for proof-of-concept centers, instituting further patent reform, and revising immigration law to make it easier for American companies to hire bright American university trained immigrant students.

UNC Chapel Hill also welcome and value OIE’s deep dives on university innovation and commercialization. And to realize its commitment to the five buckets in the NACIE sponsored university innovation and commercialization letter, UNC Chapel Hill has adopted the following strategies:

Innovate Carolina

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Innovate Carolina) serves as the strategic center for coordinating and supporting entrepreneurial development at the University. Innovate Carolina functions as the hub of the ecosystem with the various student groups, departments and faculty groups acting as spokes. Five years ago when the innovation efforts were formally launched, Innovate Carolina, with the help of faculty, students and staff, drafted the Innovation Roadmap. The 5-year roadmap outlines UNC’s approach towards building an innovation ecosystem and  for continually monitoring and updating it. This year (2015) marked the end of the 5-year plan and as a culmination Innovate Carolina in partnership with Chancellor Folt hosted the Innovation Summit. The Innovation Summit was a 2-day event that brought together 100 stakeholders (administrators, students, faculty, alumni, investorsand legislators) to reflect on the progress of our I&E ecosystem and our priorities moving forward.

The Innovation Summit marks the beginning of a new 5-year plan that will be assembled by students, faculty and Innovate Carolina to lay out the ambitions moving forward for UNC-CH I&E ecosystem. So far, the following 6 themes have been identified and these will act as the framework for the rest of the report.

  1. Teach the skills and build the mindset: How will we elevate UNC’s formal and informal teaching of the skills and mindset necessary in the 21st-century innovation economy and reach even more people?
  2. Build the foundational elements: How can we support and expand the areas of Applied Physical Sciences (APS), Biomedical Engineering (BME), Data Studies, Computer Science, and the new maker space (known as BeAM) to strengthen the building blocks of innovation?
  3. Translate ideas to impact: What is needed to adequately guide and support people as they move ideas to impact?
  4. Provide spaces of I&E: Where can we expand existing and create new spaces on or adjacent to UNC’s campus that support the full innovation process?
  5. Involve mentors and experts: How can we effectively recruit and integrate successful entrepreneurs, experts and advisors into our work?
  6. Fund high-potential ideas and the work for the I&E network: What funding do we need to accelerate innovative ideas and sustain the work of the distributed Network?
  7. Evaluate and communicate the impact: How can we evaluate and more effectively convey the collective story of I&E impact both on and off campus?

Chancellor's Student Innovation Team

The Chancellor’s Student Innovation Team (CSIT) was launched by Shruti Shah concurrently with the Chancellor Thorpe’s Innovation Circle in 2010. The goal of this team was to contribute the student priorities into the Innovation Roadmap. This group, made up of 33 exceptional student leaders, quickly evolved into a force of change that shaped the student innovation ecosystem. Carolina Creates, a student idea incubator, TedxUNC, the Kairos Chapter at UNC and much of the programming of the Entrepreneurship Minor all came out of this group. However, the most important contribution of this team of students was creating a campus wide awareness of entrepreneurship and its potential. Over the past few years this group has been a forum for student leaders to discuss how to change the administrative policies to make UNC a better launchpad for student entrepreneurs. However, in 2014 the group was rebooted with a vision to be more of an action-oriented group rather than policy-discussion oriented group. This group is now made up of 40 student leaders who are focused on answering and acting on big questions at UNC such as:

  • How do we create a more inclusive I&E ecosystem?
  • Should UNC focus on launching entrepreneurs or focus on ensuring all graduates leave with a sound understanding of the entrepreneurial frameworks?
  • How do we increase early stage ideation on campus?

This group tackles 4-5 strategic projects that address specific needs of students. CSIT played a major role in executing the Innovation Summit this October and will continue to be a leader in bringing together and advocating for the student innovation community.

= The Chancellor’s Student Innovation Team (CSIT) was launched by Shruti Shah concurrently with the Chancellor Thorpe’s Innovation Circle in 2010. The goal of this team was to contribute the student priorities into the Innovation Roadmap. This group, made up of 33 exceptional student leaders, quickly evolved into a force of change that shaped the student innovation ecosystem. Carolina Creates, a student idea incubator, TedxUNC, the Kairos Chapter at UNC and much of the programming of the Entrepreneurship Minor all came out of this group. However, the most important contribution of this team of students was creating a campus wide awareness of entrepreneurship and its potential. Over the past few years this group has been a forum for student leaders to discuss how to change the administrative policies to make UNC a better launchpad for student entrepreneurs. However, in 2014 the group was rebooted with a vision to be more of an action-oriented group rather than policy-discussion oriented group. This group is now made up of 40 student leaders who are focused on answering and acting on big questions at UNC such as:

  • How do we create a more inclusive I&E ecosystem?
  • Should UNC focus on launching entrepreneurs or focus on ensuring all graduates leave with a sound understanding of the entrepreneurial frameworks?
  • How do we increase early stage ideation on campus?

This group tackles 4-5 strategic projects that address specific needs of students. CSIT played a major role in executing the Innovation Summit this October and will continue to be a leader in bringing together and advocating for the student innovation community. =

Student Entrepreneurship

With over 20 MBA electives, the entrepreneurship curriculum at Kenan-Flagler covers a broad spectrum, including specialty topics such as family business, entrepreneurship through acquisition, and social entrepreneurship.

In addition, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies boasts a wide range of programs, conferences and competitions which deeply enrich the entrepreneurial experience of, and allow students to engage their entrepreneurial interests through a variety of perspectives. These include:

Programs, Conferences, & Competitions

Startups

  • Launching the Venture is a series of courses that help faculty, staff and students from across the UNC campus turn new ideas into viable ventures
  • The mission of the program is to equip aspiring UNC entrepreneurs with the tools to successfully launch their venture
  • MBA students may explore ventures of their own or join teams as “free agents”
  • The Launch curriculum comprises four distinct phases: Opportunity, Feasibility, Business Planning and Financing
  • Launch teams undergo weekly coaching sessions in which they receive invaluable feedback from successful entrepreneurs and domain leaders
  • Outcomes
  • Since its inception in 1999,  Launch has aided in the creation of 50 startups
  • The Carolina Challenge is an annual startup competition open to all UNC students, staff, faculty, and alumni
  • Entrants compete in one of four tracks: traditional, social, high tech and scientific
  • Entrants undergo several rounds of competition, including an elevator pitch round
  • Activities surrounding the Carolina Challenge span the academic year, including a campus-wide idea competition in the fall
  • Outcomes
  • The Carolina Challenge awards $50K in prize money each year
  • The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) gives MBA student teams the unique opportunity to learn about venture funding by acting as venture capitalists and evaluating the viability of five real startup ventures
  • VCIC’s 40 events have become a network of mini-venture fairs in which MBAs and Venture Capitalists (VC) get an early peek at viable startups
  • Outcomes
  • VCIC competition now attracts 1,200 students, 150 venture capitalists and 100 entrepreneurs each year from three different continents
  • ¼ of aspiring entrepreneurs in VCIC mini-venture fairs go on to raise venture funding
  • Student-Run Private Equity Fund: The Kenan-Flagler Private Equity Fund which launched in 2007 is the first and only student-run fund associated with a top-tier global business school that seeks to provide real returns to its limited partners
  • Kenan-Flagler also boasts two student-run real estate funds and a fund dedicated to investing in publically-traded companies
  • The private equity fund management team comprises nine Kenan-Flagler students, five second-year MBAs and four BSBAs
  • All students serve a three-semester term with the program
  • In addition to active investment activities, students participate in a series of private equity courses, lectures and events
  • Students manage all aspects of the investment cycle: raising capital, sourcing deals, performing due diligence, making investment decisions and presenting decisions to the Board of Directors
  • Outcomes
  • The Kenan-Flagler student run Private Equity Fund now has more than $4.4 million of committed capital under management; and
  • Z Capital Partners and James J. Zenni awarded a $100,000 grant to the Kenan-Flagler Business School to support private equity (PE) education for MBA and undergraduate business students.


The Minor in Entrepreneurship

Over the past several years the University has worked to provide a more encompasing entrepreneurial culture and climate to the campus community. One of the major examples of this push has been the minor in entrepreneurship within the college of arts and sciences. The goal of the minor is to prepare students outside of the undergraduate business program to start ventures with the requisite qualitative and quantitative knowledge. The minor has severa tracks for students to choose and specialize in: Sports, Social, Commercial, Science, Artistic, and recently added Public Health.

Resources the Minor Provides:

  • Business planning and methodologies such as the lean startup 
  • A track specific fail - safe environment within the venture planning course ECON 327 
  • A required Internship oppurtuntity to help students apply what they've learned and gain experience. 
  • An oppurtuntiy to work abroad for the internship requirement (Beijing Program)
  • Connections and career help through student organizer working to find oppurtunitites for each of the students within the minor. 
  • Case competitions and venture competitons around the region and even the country 
  • Fellowships and Post Graduate oppurtunities 
  • Scholarship oppurtuntities for incoming undergraduate students (Innovation Scholars)

Faculty Entrepreneurship

Chancellor Thorp’s co-author, Buck Goldstein is the University Entrepreneur in Residence and Professor of the Practice in the Department of Economics. Mr. Goldstein is the co-founder of Information America, an online information and database business, which evolved over a 15-year period, from start-up through venture financing to public company. Information America was eventually acquired by the Thomson Corporation. Mr. Goldstein subsequently became a partner in Mellon Ventures, the venture capital arm of Mellon Bank, where he served on the Board of numerous early stage information companies.

In addition to Mr. Goldstein, many practicing entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, venture lawyers and others who have the most current and relevant knowledge on specific entrepreneurial topics also teach entrepreneurship courses.

Faculty members are encouraged to and recognized for exemplary faculty scholarship. Faculty recognition initiatives include:

  • The C. Felix Harvey Award is given to the UNC faculty member or members whose proposed outreach project best reflects applied innovation of scholarly expertise in the humanities and social sciences. It seeks to support faculty who want to move their research findings from the campus to directly serve communities
  • Launch the Venture is an interactive 6-month course designed to assist faculty entrepreneurs in evaluating the feasibility of their potential company, designing a business strategy and creating a business plan. The course is free to UNC-affiliated faculty, staff and students. It is offered by the Office of Technology Development (OTD) in partnership with the Kenan-Flagler Business School

University Technology Transfer Functions

OTD typically handles approximately 125 novel technologies yearly, generating over 50 patent filings, 30 license agreements and 3-5 startup companies.

  • OTD’s services include evaluating, patenting, licensing and assisting faculty in obtaining research support from corporate sponsors.
  • OTD serves to fulfill UNC Chapel Hill’s mission to advance knowledge, enhance education, and solve societal problems, and enrich the quality of life in the State of North Carolina by:
  • Facilitating the translation of new discoveries into useful products
  • Attracting industry research collaboration; and
  • Stimulating local and regional economic development
  • OTD’s professional project managers have considerable expertise in science, business development, and intellectual property law. OTD provides the following services when UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff, and students report their innovations:
  • Evaluate the innovation for commercial potential
  • Take steps to obtain appropriate protection for the intellectual property represented by the innovation
  • Identify strong prospects for commercial partnership
  • Negotiate appropriate licensing agreement(s)
  • OTD’s licensing activities also includes copyright works and trademarks, a variety of programs to license and disseminate software, multimedia and tangible research property for both research and commercial applications
  • OTD also develops, reviews and negotiates Material Transfer Agreements to facilitate the movement of research materials to and from the University

OTD Internship and Fellowships

  • The OTD internship program is an eight month position for graduate students and/or post-doctoral fellows who wish to learn more about intellectual property and technology commercialization
  • The internship runs during the academic year, from August to May, and requires a commitment of approximately 8-12 hours per week.
  • Interns will participate in a formal training series covering the basics of technology transfer, conduct market assessments and direct marketing efforts for select technologies, and gain exposure to ongoing negotiations between OTD and industry partners.
  • OTD Training Series include a monthly series of internal training sessions for interns, new OTD employees and visiting technology transfer professionals.
  • OTD Market Analyses is a critical initiative that includes performing market assessments of promising UNC technology.
  • Gillings Innovation Labs focuses on solving significant public health challenges with fundamental breakthroughs in public health, through competitively funded research programs.
  • The Gillings School of Global Public Health established a $50 million fund with a gift from Dennis and Joan Gillings to anticipate emerging public health challenges, accelerate solutions, and improve people’s lives across the state and the world.

UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Office of Entrepreneurial Development and Global Engagement (EDGE)

The Office of Entrepreneurial Development and Global Engagement (EDGE) facilitates the School's development of entrepreneurial and global initiatives to address unmet needs in human health nationally and internationally.

Their mission is supported by:

  • Cultivating strategic international collaborations around pharmacy education, practice and research
  • Enabling global education and service learning opportunities that promote professional development
  • Developing and sustaining external relationships within the R&D community
  • Enhancing intellectual property development and start-up formation to improve economic growth

EDGE Fellowships

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellow

  • The I&E Fellow program is an two year position for graduate students and/or post-doctoral fellows who wish to learn more about intellectual property and technology commercialization. 

Global Engagement Fellow

  • The GE Fellow program is a two year position that aims to expand the School's excellence in pharmacy education, practice, and research worldwide. This aspiration is achieved through the engagement of our faculty, students, and staff in global activities and through the collaboration with other UNC health science schools.

EDGE Opportunities

EDGE sponsors two business consulting internships for graduate and professional students every summer. Students get to work with local companies in the pharmaceutical field that are in need of help commercializing their venture.

University-Industry Collaboration

UNC Chapel Hill maintains several collaborative relationships with industry groups to enhance industry access to their research expertise, intellectual property, and commercial opportunities. These include:

  • The Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) members have a shared mission to identify, enable and promote high-growth, high-impact companies and to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture of the Research Triangle and North Carolina. CED members are a community of people inspired by entrepreneurship. They include startup companies, more mature growth-stage firms, investors, service partners, academics, and individuals.
  • North Carolina Biotechnology Center provides long-term economic and societal benefits through support of biotechnology research, business, education and strategic policy by:
  • Serving as the statewide hub of life-science commercialization
  • Bootstrapping companies and new business sectors with loans and other support
  • Funding key faculty recruitment and commercially promising research
  • Linking academic, business, civic and policy leaders
  • Supporting workforce development activities
  • Providing curriculum development and workshops for educators
  • North Carolina Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) is a program of The University of North Carolina System, in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, which provides resources for growing and developing businesses. These resources include: Training & Education for Business Startups; Direct Service to Economic Development Organizations, Government Agencies, and University Departments; and Leverage University Resources Statewide.
  • North Carolina Innovative Development for Economic Advancement (NC I.D.E.A) provides small grants to high-tech startup companies to support business activities that validate potential markets, reduce risk of early failure, and advance projects to the point of self-sustainability at which time they are suitable for private equity investment

Internships and Fellowships programs are another collaborative vehicle between UNC, Chapel Hill and industry. These programs include:

  • The Carolina Entrepreneurial Fellows Program (CEF) is a collaborative effort between the Center and the MBA Entrepreneurship Club which matches entrepreneurial students with local startups
  • Typically students work two days a week with one startup (perhaps their own), two days at another startup and each Friday on group projects.
  • This 2/2/1 format gives students a broad entrepreneurial experience and exposure to the local startup community.
  • Internships are funded by clients, the MBA Entrepreneurship Club and the North Carolina Small Business Technology and Development Center.
  • The Carolina Venture Fellows Program (CVF) is inspired in part by the Kauffman Fellows Program. CVF is a highly competitive program that places select students in a structured twelve-month apprenticeship with a venture capital firm
  • The venture fellow works part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer.
  • Over twelve months, the venture fellow is involved in all facets of a venture firm: sourcing deals, structuring investments, assisting portfolio companies and fundraising.
  • Outcomes
  • Venture firms that have participated in CVF include: Intersouth Partners, IDEA Fund Partners, Southern Capitol Ventures, A.M. Pappas & Associates, SJF Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners, Parish Capital, Golden Pine Ventures, Dogwood Equity, The Aurora Funds and Carrboro Capital
  • The Alternative Investments Fellows Program (AIF) connects MBAs with rare summer internship opportunities at private equity and hedge funds
  • These internships allow students to be involved in all facets of the firm’s investment process, including: sourcing deals, due diligence, valuing and structuring investments, and assisting portfolio companies
  • Proceeds from the Alternative Investments Conference help fund the fellowships.
  • Outcomes
  • Participating firms include: Brown Brothers Harriman, North State Capital Investors, Bank of America Global Strategic Capital, The Halifax Group, Jacobs Capital, and Google.

Regional and Local Economic Development

UNC Chapel Hill participates in several economic development initiatives that impact the regional economy. These include:

Innovate@Carolina: Important Ideas for a Better World has raised more than $11 million for a new $125 million fundraising campaign developed by UNC alumni and friends experienced in leading innovation in science, business, medicine, nonprofits and academia to bring the power of innovation and entrepreneurship to bear on the world’s biggest problems.

Outcomes

  • UNC’s membership in a consortium created by a $3.6 million gift from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation
  • The consortium will help the Research Triangle develop a network of entrepreneurial assistance similar to those in Silicon Valley and the Boston Corridor
  • Partners include Duke University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Development


Impact (anticipated)

  • The network has the potential over a decade to create jobs, attract seed, startup and expansion capital, and generate revenue

Deep-Dive Questions

  • Is innovation an integral part of UNC Chapel Hill’s institutional culture?
  • Why is it important? And how does it influence entrepreneurship and tech transfer?
    • Ideas aren't born in a vacuum. It is rare for a good idea to meet a driven person and see that to fruition. It's important to bring those resources together to facilitate their ideation and development.
  • How do you envision your program in the future?
    • The program is on the verge of exponential growth. Innovation is springing up around the university, but collaboration and communication remains to be developed.
  • How does your institution leverage (or intend to leverage) geographic endowment?
    • Close connections with Research Triangle Park, budding developments with public-private partnerships, and collaborations with neighboring University entrepreneurship initiatives
  • Are your entrepreneurship and tech transfer programs integrated?
    • They are moving to closer connections, and many of the people in both departments have been trained together

Conclusion

UNC Chapel Hill appears to have on-going initiatives in all areas of its commitment to initiate and expand technology commercialization processes, encourage entrepreneurship, and institute policies and programs that support regional economic development. However, there does not appear to be a formal collaborative relationship between the various initiatives in OTD and the Center for Entrepreneurial studies.

Even so, a central challenge for UNC Chapel Hill would be how to better leverage its geographic and human capital endowments. The region’s Research Triangle Park (RTP) offers robust high-tech research and development centers that serve as incubators for new ideas, as well as opportunities for entrepreneurial faculty and students to gain invaluable practical experience. UNC Chapel Hill should also continue to better cultivate and leverage the financial and professional support of successful alumni, entrepreneurs, and investors to provide a sustainable source of funding for innovative commercialization and entrepreneurship programs, as well as guidance to help it reach the market place.

Lastly, Ms. Judith Cone's comments will be instructive in better understanding UNC, Chapel Hill’s various innovative entrepreneurship, research, and technology transfer programs. As well as the impact of the NACIE commitment letter in framing UNC, Chapel Hill’s strategic plans and institutional culture.

The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship thanks UNC, Chapel Hill’s assistance with this case study, and looks forward to a continued close and collaborative relationship in building America’s innovation infrastructure.


Landscape Canvas


Related Links

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Student Priorities

UI Fellow- Rangoli Bhattacharjee

UI Fellow- Mihir Pershad 

UI Fellow - Teerth Brahmbhatt

UI Fellow - Alex Sherman

UI Fellow-Shannon Coy


7  Comments by: Judith Cone, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



About the Authors:

Charles Kuralt, at the UNC Bicentennial in 1993:

Source: "The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University: Higher Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Focus", Department of Commerce, October 2013.

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