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Data Collection Methodology and Resources

Data for the included UNC startup businesses are developed, refined, and maintained by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, working closely with the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, the UNC Office of Technology Development, the Chancellor’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute.

This comprehensive list of UNC startup businesses has been developed to reflect the impact of UNC research, innovation, and entrepreneurial activity in North Carolina. The companies listed have emerged from the university and reside within the state of North Carolina. The list does not capture companies that have emerged from UNC–Chapel Hill and have located outside the state.

The list is a work in progress and is intended to be current as of the revised date on the bottom of the page. The number of North Carolina businesses that have emerged from UNC–Chapel Hill changes from year to year as new businesses are formed and businesses relocate or exit the market. When university startup businesses are purchased, merged, or absorbed by other businesses, they continue to be included on the list so long as the operations of the business unit continue and are located in North Carolina.

There is no single source for data about businesses that emerge from universities. The information posted here has been gathered from multiple sources, including Salesforce.com and a platform used to track UNC innovation and entrepreneurship developed by the Chancellor’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. Suggestions for additions, changes, or corrections to this list or data are welcome. Please send feedback to startups@unc.edu.

Companies emerging from UNC–Chapel Hill are divided into three categories depending on their origin.

UNC Technology-Transfer Startups are companies created to commercialize scientific discoveries and intellectual property that result from research activity on campus. These new businesses are established to take advantage of patents and intellectual property arising from research conducted at UNC, a process that involves the transfer of a core technology developed at UNC to a newly established company through a license. When companies have been formed around technologies bundled from multiple sources including UNC–Chapel Hill, they are included in this category with an acknowledgment of the other universities or businesses that contributed technology.

UNC–Assisted Startups are companies that were incubated or accelerated through direct UNC institutional support in the form of entrepreneurship courses, business plan competitions, business incubators and accelerators, and faculty mentorship. Programs that offer direct institutional support include:

  • 1789 Venture Lab: A collaborative meeting space with mentoring and educational programming for UNC students and recent grads. 1789 offers a large working space, a 20-seat venture bar, conference rooms, wireless internet, and free hosting. 
  • Carolina Challenge: A cross-campus startup competition for students, faculty, and staff. The program hosts “idea” competitions in the fall and a “venture” competition each spring, with $50,000 in prize money.
  • Carolina Creates: A UNC student organization sponsored by Innovate@Carolina & UNC Student Affairs including an online platform and on-campus initiative to foster connections between students, faculty, staff, and members of the Chapel Hill community. 
  • Carolina KickStart: Helps early-stage medical, life, and health-science companies meet commercial milestones with resources and logistical support. Requests for proposals are solicited on a quarterly basis from faculty founders. The program provides awards that can range from $25,000 to $50,000, depending on a company’s demonstrated needs.
  • The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES): A center within the Kenan-Flagler Business School offering students, staff, and faculty the resources to identify and evaluate valuable entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as get connected to mentors and coaches.
  • The Cube (Campus Y): An experiential learning lab where young social entrepreneurs can test ideas, experience accountability, evaluate impact, and incorporate feedback into their social enterprise. The lab provides access to seed capital opportunities, one-on-one mentoring, pro-bono support services, feedback from entrepreneurial experts, and capacity-building workshops covering everything from legal liability to effective marketing to entrepreneurial finance.
  • Entrepreneur’s Lounge: A dedicated space located within the Department of Computer Science for budding entrepreneurs to meet with colleagues from other disciplines and where computer science startup companies can meet to plan and organize.
  • Innovation Labs: Labs within the Gillings School of Global Public Health designed to help accelerate delivery of real-world solutions for some of the most challenging public health problems. The Research and Innovation Solutions team at the School of Public Health promote faculty and student research and nurture entrepreneurship.
  • Launching the VentureA UNC program that helps faculty, staff, and students from across campus turn ideas into new ventures. The UNC Office of Technology Development, together with the Kenan-Flagler Business School, offers Launching the Venture as an interactive, six-month course designed to help faculty entrepreneurs evaluate the feasibility of their potential business venture, design a business strategy, and create a business plan. The course is free to UNC-affiliated faculty, staff, and students.
  • Launch Chapel Hill (formerly Carolina Launch Pad): A precommercial business accelerator that serves aspiring entrepreneurs who are part of the UNC community (faculty, staff, and students) and who have business ideas or plans that have the potential to develop into funded startups. Launch Chapel Hill works with up to five entrepreneurs each year beginning in November. Professionals from the UNC Office of Technology Development, the UNC Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School, and from the Triangle IT community coach and mentor the entrepreneurs.

Independently launched UNC Startups are companies that arise from the independent initiative and entrepreneurial zeal of UNC faculty, staff, and students. These are businesses that would not exist but for the presence of the university and are the product of UNC faculty and students applying their creativity and expertise to solve problems and address unmet market needs. To be included in this category, independently launched UNC startups must offer novel products or address business opportunities in innovative or emerging fields. These companies are founded or cofounded by UNC faculty, staff, students. They may include businesses started by students within a narrow window immediately following graduation where the business opportunity was conceived in the university setting. For purposes of this list, independently launched UNC startups do not include traditional professional service firms such as legal, medical, or consulting practices.

Last updated January 9, 2015.