Carolina Innovations Seminar Series

Immerse yourself in the now and next

Where can you find the latest insights on transformative discoveries, inventions, technologies and therapies?  What lessons can you learn from respected thought leaders in academia, government and industry who’ve already found success on their own innovation journeys? And how can you apply these real-world insights to help pave your own innovative and entrepreneurial path?

Join the UNC Office of Technology Commercialization for our monthly Carolina Innovations Seminar series, which is a celebration of innovation, inventorship and entrepreneurship. During each seminar, we explore innovative trends taking place at the intersection of higher education, research, industry, entrepreneurship and venture creation.

This is your chance to connect with other faculty and students at UNC, hear firsthand from industry experts and make connections with other innovators who can help you push your ideas to their inventive edge.  At this seminar series, which takes place monthly during the academic year, you’ll hear from a lineup of distinguished guest speakers who are experts in a wide range of topics related to innovation, commercializing research and launching startup companies.

2019-20 Seminars

2020 Celebration of Inventorship

Thursday, September 10
4:30 p.m.
Zoom Webinar

UNC Inventor of the Year Presentation: Michael Ramsey, Minnie N. Golby Distinguished Professor of Chemistry

During this webinar celebration, you’ll hear an updated from Provost Bob Blouin about the University’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship and celebrate all inventors from Carolina who received issued patents in the last year. We’ll also recognize the UNC-Chapel Hill Inventor of the Year Michael Ramsey, who will deliver a presentation about his research and work in commercialization.

Creating New Patient-Centered Business Opportunities: From Disease Roadmaps to Innovation Accelerators

Thursday, February 13
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenter: Dr. Prabir Roy-Chaudhury, MD, PhD, FRCP (Edin), professor of medicine and co-director the UNC Kidney Center

Dr. Prabir Roy-Chaudhury, MD, PhD, FRCP (Edin), professor of medicine and co-director the UNC Kidney Center, will share how he worked with a multi-disciplinary team to develop a roadmap for kidney disease and participated in an innovation accelerator to help spark new technology opportunities, business building and better patient outcomes.

How to Bring Personalized Cancer Care to Patients Everywhere

Thursday, January 9
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenter: Sha Chang, Ph.D., professor and director of medical physics research, Department of Radiation Oncology, UNC School of Medicine; founder of EmpowerRT

Dr. Sha Chang, a professor and director of medical physics research at the UNC School of Medicine, will share the story of EmpowerRT, a social enterprise she founded to bring personalized cancer care to patients everywhere. Learn how EmpowerRT makes it possible for cancer clinics around the world to do more with less. Chang and her team repurpose a UNC-retired, clinically-proven and user-friendly solution (software, hardware, and the know-how) developed by her team at UNC years ago to give it a new life in helping more cancer patients in other parts of the world.

Secrets for Thriving in North Carolina's Life Sciences Ecosystem

Thursday, December 12
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenters: Laura Rowley, Ph.D., Director, Life Science Economic Development; Tracey du Laney, Ph.D., Director, Science and Technology Development; North Carolina Biotechnology Center

During the seminar, Laura Rowley and Tracey du Laney from NCBiotech will share with you some of the most valuable – and perhaps surprising – aspects of the life sciences community that you can tap into to strengthen your research, technology or venture. They’ll help you discover collaborative possibilities, funding and resources that you’ve perhaps never known about or considered.

Lessons From Liquidia: Designing Precision Drugs to Transform Pharma

Thursday, November 14
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenters: Shawn Glidden, Vice President of Legal Affairs and Secretary, Liquidia Technologies, Inc.

Join us to hear Shawn Glidden share an insider’s perspective on how he helped take Liquidia from a newly formed private entity through its recent NASDAQ public offering, which closed with $53 million in gross proceeds. Learn how Mr. Glidden helped build the initial concept for Liquidia into a public company with a product candidate in phase 3 clinical trials. 

Digital Therapeutics: Software as Treatment

Thursday, September 12
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenters: Sarah Jackson, Chief of Staff, and Carly Levin, Strategic Development at Click Therapeutics.

Join us for our first Carolina Innovations Seminar of the fall semester hosted by the UNC Office of Technology Commercialization. You’ll hear from leaders at Click Therapeutics®, which develops and commercializes software as prescription medical treatments for people with unmet medical needs. Learn from these industry leaders about how software is changing the treatment paradigm.

2018-19 Seminars

14th Annual Celebration of Inventorship

Thursday, May 23
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

During this celebration, the Office of Technology Commercialization presents the Inventor of the Year Award to a UNC-Chapel Hill innovator in recognition of their contributions to inventions and patents. The award honors the recipient’s commitment to the University’s culture of encouraging innovation, disseminating knowledge and promoting entrepreneurship.

You’ll have the opportunity to hear from University leaders about Carolina’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship and honor all inventors who received issued patents in the last year.

Pharmaceutical Innovations: Transforming Bold Ideas Into Better Health

Thursday, April 4
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

A Look Forward with the Eshelman Institute for Innovation  

Presenter: Roy Zwahlen, associate dean for innovation and entrepreneurship, Eshelman School of Pharmacy

It’s been almost five years since the transformative $100 million gift by Dr. Fred Eshelman set the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy on a path to vigorously pursue new ideas in pharmacy education, practice and science. Join us to hear an update from school’s Eshelman Institute of Innovation about its work to accelerate the creation and development of ideas that are leading to discoveries and breakthrough changes in education, research and health care. Find out about the exciting progress made by the Institute over the past several years and learn where it’s headed in the future.

The Entrepreneur, or There and Back Again

Thursday, March 7
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenters: Nathan Stasko, co-founder and former president and CEO of Novan

Nathan Stasko, PhD, who was a co-founder of Novan Inc. and previously served as the company’s President and on its Board of Directors for 13 years, invites you to come listen to the top things he wishes he’d known before embarking on his own adventure over a decade ago. Hear how he navigated the path from an academic laboratory on UNC’s campus to a publicly traded company. Dr. Stasko’s journey has included many moments from which to distill key insights for the next adventurer.

New Trends in Economic Development: How the NC Dept. of Commerce and Universities Drive Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development

Thursday, Feb. 7
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenters: Liz Crabill, Chief Deputy Secretary, NC Dept. of Commerce
Liz Crabill from the NC Dept. of Commerce will join us to share her perspectives on the importance of university-driven entrepreneurship and workforce development for making an economic impact across the state

Trends and Models for Developing Therapeutics: Deerfield Management Discusses Pinnacle Hill Partnership with UNC

Thursday, Jan. 17
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenters: Deerfield Management Leadership Team
Leaders from Deerfield Management will discuss trends in therapeutics development and Pinnacle Hill, the new company created through its partnership with UNC-Chapel Hill. Deerfield has reserved $65 million to support the advancement of novel drug development projects at the University.

Funding the Future: UNC Startup Investment Programs

Thursday, Dec. 6
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Presenters: Randy Myer, managing director of Carolina Angel Network; Michael Dial, managing director of Carolina Research Ventures Fund
As faculty and students at UNC-Chapel Hill launch an increasing number of high-potential startups, how can they get the funding they need to develop their ventures? What resources are available to fill the early funding gap they face? Get an update from two UNC investor programs that provide critical early-stage investments to UNC-affiliated startups. Learn how these programs are helping Carolina innovators bring valuable ideas to market to improve how we work and live.


The Business of Life Science: Industry Update from NCBiotech

Thursday, Nov. 1
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Join us to hear from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech) about the latest ways it’s working to accelerate life science and technology-based economic development through innovation, commercialization, education and business. Get the latest information about its funding programs for university researchers and companies. Finally, learn about new resources, networks and connections that you can tap into that can help speed your path to market.


Biotech Spinouts: Lessons in Leadership

Thursday, Oct. 4
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Guest Presenter: Sheila Mikhail, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AskBio
Join us for an insightful and inspiring discussion with Sheila Mikhail, who will share her experiences and advice based on 20 years of founding and leading biopharma companies. Sheila has co-founded seven university biotech spinouts and has a continued active involvement in each. Hear her philosophy on taking risks and discover the leadership lessons she’s put into practice as co-founder and CEO of Asklepios BioPharmaceutical(AskBio), one of the longest existing rAAV gene therapy companies. You’ll also learn about the insights she’s gleaned during her career as an entrepreneur and as CEO of AskBio spinout Bamboo Therapeutics, which was acquired by Pfizer in August 2016 in a deal valued at $845 million.

Health Security Funding Opportunities and Disruptive Technologies

Thursday, Sept. 6
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (The Great Room)

Guest Presenter: Emil Runge, Program Manager,  First Flight Venture Center Health Security Accelerator
Emil Runge provided an update on health security funding opportunities based on his work leading the First Flight Venture Center’s new Health Security Accelerator. Emil discussed the program’s focus on solving some of the biggest national health security threats through the development of innovative technologies. Attendees learned about significant non-dilutive early-stage innovation funding and future equity funding plans.


This year the Carolina Innovation Seminar Series will be held the first Thursday of every month in the Great Room at Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery (100 E. Franklin Street) at the corner of Franklin and Columbia streets in Chapel Hill. The seminar runs from 5:30-6:30 p.m., followed immediately by a networking reception in the same space.

Public Parking Options

Public parking is available in one of the lots on Rosemary Street. Traveling from Raleigh/Durham, via Franklin Street, make a right on North Columbia Street. Take the next right on Rosemary Street. There are several lots on East Rosemary Street, all of which are pay lots. However, Top of the Hill will validate parking tickets at the following lots and garages for attendees at events in the Great Room:

• Rosemary/Columbia Lot (100 East Rosemary St.)
• Rosemary Deck (125 East Rosemary St.)
• Wallace Parking Deck (150 East Rosemary St.)

To validate parking, guests must enter their parking space number as well as an authorization code at one of the parking pay stations. Please follow these instructions:

1. Press the yellow button above the white start button.
2. Enter parking spot number (spots are painted at each parking space).
3. Press OK.
4. Enter authorization code number. You can find this code in the confirmation email you receive after registering for the event.
5. Press OK.

Because of the the new automated system in Chapel Hill’s parking lots, Top of the Hill can no longer collect tickets and validate them at the bar.

Campus Parking Options

Parking on campus is available, but it is sometimes difficult to find spaces. The Morehead Parking Lot is located on Franklin Street next to Morehead Planetarium. Another lot, the Swain Parking lot is located on Cameron Avenue. Be aware, however, that this lot is frequently reserved for events at Memorial Hall. From Raleigh/Durham via Franklin Street, make a left onto South Columbia Street. At the second light, make a left onto Cameron Avenue. The first left is the entrance to Swain Parking Lot. The charge for parking at campus lots is $1.00-1.25 per hour.