Promising ideas begin with potential. They go to market with proof.


Faculty and students at UNC-Chapel Hill live and breathe ideas. They are forward thinkers who constantly look ahead and ask, “Why not”, “What if” and “What’s next?” New concepts come to mind fast. They’re sparked by a conversation. A sketch on a napkin. Or an a-ha moment in the lab. They evolve into possible treatments for diseases. Technologies that make life easier. Inventions that push society forward.

The pipeline of ideas in Chapel Hill is robust: emerging treatments brain cancer, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s and AIDS. Advances in nanotechnology, gene therapy and personalized medicine. And new solutions for green energy, sustainable food systems and clean water.

But not every idea will pan out. And it’s important to quickly identify the ones can spin into something incredible – and the ones will just leave promising innovators spinning in circles. At Carolina, to make the biggest impact possible on the world, our faculty and students must focus their time and talent on the ideas that have real potential.

Equally important, investors aren’t eager to support ideas just because someone thinks they’ll work. They’re looking for proof. Minus the ability to provide that proof, faculty and student entrepreneurs find themselves stagnating in a funding gap – equipped with an idea that they believe has real potential, but without the funds to prove it to others.


How this opportunity makes a difference
The Idea Development Fund is a major fund to help faculty and students across the University advance promising ideas. This fund includes a proof-of-concept program that will help faculty and students determine if their ideas have real merit, or if they need to be reconsidered. It will help them assess the readiness of their ideas and speed UNC-based innovations with the highest potential to market – and into the hands of people who can benefit from them.

Through the Idea Development Fund, Carolina innovators will be able to:

  • Award grants to UNC faculty and students for exploratory experiments, prototype development, R&D, IP strategy and investment plans.
  • Fill the funding gap by providing seed funding to novel, early-stage research that wouldn’t otherwise receive an investment.
  • Help innovators evaluate the commercial potential of their ideas: market assessment research, competitive analysis, technological feasibility, and other studies.
  • Assign coaches to faculty and student teams to mentor them on how to take inventions to market and create startups.
  • Connect research teams to esteemed external mentors: venture investors, startup specialists and entrepreneurs.
  • Expand the number of ventures returning revenue to the University.


Why your gift matters
Even faculty and students who have the most promising ideas find it difficult to secure early-stage funding to develop and test prototypes and conduct proper market analysis and research. Your gift to will support space, staffing and program support needs for the new proof-of-concept center, which will be a critical resource for helping enterprising scholars and researchers validate and develop top-tier ideas. Together, we can guide them during their go-to-market journey and help them take their innovations to the next level.

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