We don’t make innovators. We help them make a difference.

Innovations begin with promising ideas. But ideas only make an impact when you build great strategies around them. Without the right strategy for turning your idea into a tangible solution that matters to real people, you’re likely to find yourself lingering in a what-could-have-been world.

Like many, you might not be sure how to get started with your idea. Or maybe you got off to a fast start, but now find yourself stuck. It’s also possible that you’ve never thought about yourself as an innovator or entrepreneur.

Whatever your situation, if you have an idea, we want to help you create the greatest economic and social impact possible. Our Innovate Carolina team won’t “make” you an innovator. But we can equip you with proven strategies and tools that you can use to make a difference. When the processes, pathways and resources you need to make your ideas work aren’t obvious or easy to find, we can help you identify a better way.

Explore our innovation strategy and programming services

Our innovation strategy team has worked with many faculty, students and other innovators to create plans for solving complex, interdisciplinary problems. Together, we can also begin to imagine and define a strategy for your innovation path. We’ll help you plan for how to develop and refine your ideas, identify potential funding streams and form strategic partnerships. Then, we can provide guidance on how to develop a successful program to actually implement your plan.

Below you’ll find services offered directly by our Innovate Carolina team through our innovation hub that may become part of your strategy. As we work together, we’ll also connect you to a network of other I&E resources offered by departments and programs across campus and in the community. For a full listing of I&E resources available to Carolina innovators, see our I&E resources directory.


Startup Accelerators and Support

Get help from our startup experts on how to secure funding, find accelerator space, and learn from entrepreneurial mentors and coaches who can answer questions and provide guidance based on decades of collective startup experience.
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Design Thinking

Apply this creative problem-solving to your work so you can more quickly and fully understand the needs and wants of your customers and constituents. Through design thinking, you’ll learn to “fail fast” and iterate your ideas to find the most effective solutions.

Innovation Project Development

Engage with our team to develop new innovation programs, initiatives, and strategies that make Carolina a place where innovators thrive. We can help advance relationships with funding agencies, uncover new funding opportunities, build partnerships, and provide strategic guidance on forming new ideas and initiatives.

Patent Landscaping and Market Research

Get a strategic view of the patent landscape, competitive field, and current and projected market conditions. You can also identify opportunities for grants and funding to complete research and launch new products, services, and businesses.

Social Innovation

Learn how you can create change for underserved, disadvantaged or neglected populations. You’ll find new ways to maximize your social impact and create strategies for business ideas that also make a positive difference on the environment and society

Innovation Impact and Reporting

Get advice and assistance on how you can more effectively collect, manage and report data, while establishing metrics and reports to assess the impact of your program or organization.

Technology Commercialization

Get guidance and support from the Office of Technology Commercialization, which manages all aspects of UNC-Chapel Hill intellectual property. It provides funding and works closely with other University and external funders and resource providers to further develop and translate discoveries and technologies.

Carolina Angel Network

Get connected with the Carolina Angel Network (CAN), which is the only official angel investor network for startups and ventures associated with UNC-Chapel Hill. CAN actively engages and matches UNC-Chapel Hill alumni network expertise with portfolio companies to support growth and success.

Student Innovation Services

Explore a variety of spaces, programs, funding opportunities, competitions and communities that help undergrad and grad students advance their entrepreneurial projects and ventures.

Connect with our team


Judith Cone

Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

Michelle Bolas

Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation Strategy and Programs

Sheryl Waddell

Director, Innovate Carolina Global Network, Innovate Carolina

Erin Hopper

Innovation Special Projects Lead, Innovate Carolina