Businesses emerging from UNC’s research enterprise contribute heavily to the total number of business startups that have spun out of Carolina over the past 60 years.

UNC’s Office for Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development (OVCIEED) recently released the latest data measuring Carolina startup businesses, showing that a total of 358 active businesses got their start from faculty, students, programs, or organizations at UNC. The university’s research, science, and technology figure prominently in this total, with 197 businesses having roots in UNC research endeavors.

UNC research startups active and located in North Carolina currently employ 7,060 North Carolinians and attract annual revenues of $9.8 billion. They range from clinical trials giant Quintiles — which employs 2,500 workers in the state — to small innovative technology startups such as G-1 Therapeutics. And just last week, Governor Cooper announced that Pfizer Inc. will invest $100 million and create 40 jobs to produce gene therapies in a facility in Sanford, building upon a technologies, expertise, and infrastructure developed by UNC and spun out into the startup Bamboo Therapeutics.

Carolina is a leader nationally in the use of data to measure how its startups strengthen the economy in the state and across the globe. Innovate Carolina, overseen by OVCIEED, has created a comprehensive startups database to measure the impact of these social and commercial ventures. Launched in 2014 with support from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR), this longitudinal database goes beyond traditional approaches used in the wider academic community for measuring the results of university-born companies and offers a unique, complete approach, compiling results over time for both IP-based and non-IP startups.

Beginning in 2013, the OVCR began working closely with the Chancellor’s then-Special Assistant for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Judith Cone, staff at the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise and other campus partners to develop a system for identifying and tracking all startups that have emerged from UNC.  These included businesses that emerged from faculty research breakthroughs, UNC technology and intellectual property, student entrepreneurship support organizations, and other sources. This work became part of the foundation for the Innovate Carolina database, which is today maintained by Cindy Reifsnider in OVCIEED, with support from Harrison Gilbert in OVCR.

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