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1789 Student Venture Fund

The 1789 Student Venture Fund provides financial support for UNC-Chapel Hill students to use to build commercial and social startups. Too often, the promising ideas that students have for building ventures are never given the opportunity to take off because they lack the early-stage funding needed for initial testing, development and growth. The goal of the 1789 Student Venture Fund is to provide students with the seed funding they need to ideate, create ventures and move startups from concept to reality. Award funding ranges from $100 to $2,500 per student application.

Kimi Yingling

Student Engagement and Events Program Manager, Innovate Carolina
1789 Venture Lab, 173 1/2 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Dreamers-Who-Do Award

Innovate Carolina gives students at UNC-Chapel Hill the chance to submit an application for the Dreamers-Who-Do Award, which can help them move their ideas forward and turn novel concepts into a concrete solution. Dreamers-Who-Do awards provide financial support for student projects, programs and guest speakers that help Carolina students learn what it means to be innovators and entrepreneurs and gives them opportunities to put those insights into practice. These activities may involve programs or events based on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus as well as initiatives that involve travel to competitions, conferences and events that help students develop an innovative mindset and skillset.

Sheryl Waddell

Director, Innovate Carolina Global Network

KickStart Commercialization Awards

The KickStart Commercialization Awards, which provide funding of up to $50,000 each, help UNC-Chapel Hill startups that are founded on University intellectual property meet early milestones in their commercialization efforts. The awards, which KickStart Venture Services administers, are part of a campuswide effort to translate discoveries made in Carolina’s academic laboratories into products and services that can benefit people in North Carolina and around the world. The discoveries may involve life sciences (e.g. therapeutics, biologics, diagnostics, novel therapeutic small molecules, medical devices or health IT) or technologies (e.g. energy, material science, engineering or computer science). By receiving the award, your early-stage company will have the flexibility to use the funding to support both technical activities (validation studies, prototype development) and business activities (regulatory pathway, freedom to operate). In addition to funding, the program will provide you with access to internal and external business experts. If you are a faculty founder who would like to be considered, you may participate in the quarterly request-for-applications process.

Mireya McKee

Assistant Director, KickStart Venture Services, UNC Office of Commercialization and Economic Development
2157 Genome Sciences Bldg., 250 Bell Tower Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Technology Development Grants

The UNC Office of Technology Commercialization offers the Technology Development Grant program to help Carolina faculty and researchers develop unlicensed University technologies and advance them to commercially-relevant endpoints. Successful projects result in a technology that is prepared for commercial engagement and, preferably, licensing.

To be eligible for consideration, your technology must be one that you can patent or license as copyright or tangible property. Your project will be given preference if it has clearly defined endpoints and if you provide definitive confirmation that the necessary resources are available to complete the project. You’ll need to complete your project within one year. As a participant in the program, you can use the grant funding to support a variety of projects, but you may not use it to cover patenting costs or to fund basic research that is not linked to a commercial application. Most grants range from $5,000 to $25,000, although the funding for your grant will be based on the strength of your technology and individual proposal.

Michael Kline

Head of Outreach and Technology Development, UNC Office of Technology Commercialization

Research, Innovation and Global Solutions for Public Health

Research, Innovation and Global Solutions empowers faculty members, students and staff at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health to solve local and global health problems through research, innovation and practice. It provides guidance and support in the areas of:

  • Research
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Global health

It also manages and provides support for several Gillings programs and initiatives, including programs funded by the Gillings gift.

Julie MacMillan

Managing Director, Research and Innovation Solutions
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, 104 Rosenau Hall, Chapel Hill, NC

Carolina Research Ventures

To ensure that startups and other University-sourced companies have the opportunity to fully develop and deploy technology generated at Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill launched Carolina Research Ventures (CRV). CRV has created an early-stage investment fund (the Fund or CRVIF) to provide critical discovery and development capital. The goal of the CRVIF is to unlock the potential of UNC-Chapel Hill technologies and advance the commercialization of these technologies by providing early-stage capital and industry expertise, as well as ongoing capital and support.

CRV focuses its support on Life Science and IT companies.  If you are attempting to commercialize a technology, or you’re trying to grow your company in one of these areas, and University resources were used to create or establish your company, CRV may be able to help you on the next step in your journey.


James Melton

Managing Director, Carolina Research Ventures Fund
200 East Cameron Ave, Suite 300, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Carolina Angel Network

The Carolina Angel Network (CAN) brings together the UNC-Chapel Hill entrepreneurial community, University alumni network and innovative private companies to empower the businesses that drive our future. Our mission is to support the Carolina entrepreneurial community with an angel investing platform and co-investment fund (the Carolina Growth Fund) that engages and leverages the power of our alumni network. The CAN operational team and investment platform exist within the UNC Office of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.

The Carolina Angel Network actively engages and matches UNC alumni network expertise with portfolio companies to support growth and success. The global Carolina community offers a uniquely powerful opportunity for networking and guidance from industry experts and successful entrepreneurial leaders. CAN members work actively to connect CAN portfolio companies with the UNC network to foster collaboration.

As a CAN investor, you will have visibility into the best UNC startup deals. To become a member investor, you must be an accredited investor and have an affiliation with UNC-Chapel Hill. Your affiliation may be as an alumnus, the parent of an alum, faculty member, employee or donor. Or, alternatively, if you are an entrepreneur who is building a high-growth company and would like to apply to be part of the network, your company will need to meet specific funding criteria, have a founder affiliated with Carolina and be headquartered in the U.S. To learn more about Carolina Angel Network membership and its members, contact Randy Myer, managing director, or Chelsea Eshraghi, director.

Randy Myer

Director, Carolina Angel Network
201-A East Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC

Market Landscape Research Service

A lot of ideas sound promising, but how does someone know if their concept is ready for the market? Innovate Carolina’s Research Services team helps UNC-Chapel Hill innovators and inventors answer this question. The team provides the following services to inventors and entrepreneurs at the University: patent landscaping, market and funding research, startup consulting, technical assistance and training workshops.

Cindy Reifsnider

Director, Research Services and Lead Analyst for Patent and Sci/Tech Literature
Innovate Carolina Headquarters, 109 Church Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

E(I) Lab

The E(I) Lab is a six-month experiential program that brings together graduate students, professional students and postdocs from diverse disciplines across UNC to conceive, develop and test innovative solutions to unmet needs in health care. Teams will be given generous financial support to develop the necessary prototypes, be inventors on patents, and be trained in various aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation. The top teams receive monetary prizes in addition to potential seed investments.

Sam Lai

Associate Professor and Director, Pharmacoengineering Program
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Marsico Hall 4213, 125 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC

Robert E. Bryan Fellowship

The Robert E. Bryan Fellowship is designed for aspiring social change-makers who are interested in providing a significant contribution locally, nationally or internationally by creating an entrepreneurial project that addresses a community issue or need. The fellowship is named in honor of alumnus Robert Emmet Bryan (1904-1975), a native of Newton Grove, N.C., who was a strong supporter of public service. Up to six team fellowships are awarded each fall for the following calendar year (January through December), and applications are due in mid-October.

As a fellowship recipient, you will enroll in a one-credit service-learning course in the UNC Department of Public Policy. You will receive up to $1,500 to help launch your idea, gain access to professional development funds, get support from APPLES students and staff, and experience invaluable leadership training and personal development. After completing the fellowship year, your team can reapply for a second year of funding of up to $1,000.

Ryan Nilsen

Program Officer, Student Programs
Carolina Center for Public Service, Frank Porter Graham Student Union, Suite 3514, CB 5210, Chapel Hill, NC

Gillings Innovation Labs

The Gillings Innovation Labs focus on achieving fundamental breakthroughs in public health. If you’re a faculty member who has a primary appointment in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, you are eligible to apply for one of the annual awards offered by the program. The award will allow you to engage in cutting-edge research, translate interventions to high-impact settings, and develop novel technologies or methodologies that improve public health, locally and globally.

As a principal investigator (PI), you are encouraged to involve Gillings or other UNC-Chapel Hill students in your project. Your proposal may also include a co-PI from another department or school at Carolina.

Julie MacMillan

Managing Director, Research and Innovation Solutions
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, 104 Rosenau Hall, Chapel Hill, NC

Innovation Pilot Awards

If you are an employee at the UNC School of Medicine or UNC Health Care, you can apply for internal pilot funding offered annually by the Center for Innovation based in the medical school. If selected, you can use the award to pursue health care innovations across a broad spectrum of areas: care delivery models, care pathways, new technologies, new applications, advanced analytics, business model innovations, workforce development and translational research. In previous years, the center has awarded as many as four awards up to $50,000 each.

Carol Lewis

Vice President, UNC Center for Health Innovation
UNC Center for Health Innovation, 211 Friday Center Dr., Chapel Hill, NC

Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship Innovation Fellowship

The Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship offers innovation fellowships that are given to several students enrolled in the entrepreneurship minor within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. To be selected, you must participate in a competitive process, be chosen by a committee and have a stated interest in an entrepreneurial internship for the summer. Once you receive your award, you use it to offset the costs of living for summer experiences. As part of this fellowship program, if you are in a city with summer programming, you will participate in weekly activities designed to help immerse you in the professional, cultural and social life of the place where you spend your summer.

Bernard Bell

Executive Director, Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship
UNC College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics, Gardner Hall, Chapel Hill, NC

LeighDeux Women for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award

The LeighDeux Women for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards ($2,500 per year) are given to undergraduate students enrolled in the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship through the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. To receive one of these awards, you must be selected by a committee as part of a competitive process. When you apply, please be sure to state your interest in launching your own venture, whether while enrolled at the University or after you graduate. As an award recipient, you may use the awards to support your research, travel, internship opportunities or initial startup funding. You’ll also receive mentoring and the chance to meet with LeighDeux for advice and consultation.

Bernard Bell

Executive Director, Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship
UNC College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics, Gardner Hall, Chapel Hill, NC

JNO Award

The JNO Awards ($5,000 per year) are given to two students enrolled in the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship through the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. To receive the award, you must participate in a competitive process and be selected by a committee that is appointed by the director of the minor. When you apply for the award, you must have a stated interest in launching your own venture, whether while enrolled at the University or after you graduate. You will also need to submit a written proposal that demonstrates how a JNO Award will assist you with your project. Working closely with faculty and staff as you develop your business plan, you can use your awards for research, travel, internship opportunities and initial startup funding.

Bernard Bell

Executive Director, Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship
UNC College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics, Gardner Hall, Chapel Hill, NC

Davis Projects for Peace Award

The Davis Projects for Peace Award is open to all undergraduates at the 76 institutions (including UNC-Chapel Hill) that are part of the Davis United World College Scholars Program. The program is made possible by the late Kathryn Wasserman Davis, an accomplished internationalist and philanthropist, who celebrated her 100th birthday in 2007 by committing $1 million for 100 projects for peace. As a student participant, you are invited to design a grassroots project that you implement during the summer. Davis Projects for Peace selects 100 projects judged to be the most promising and feasible, and then the program funds the projects at $10,000 each.

Tremayne Manson

Administrative Services Specialist, Carolina Center for Public Service
Carolina Center for Public Service, UNC-Chapel Hill, 205 Wilson St., Chapel Hill, NC

Community Engagement Fellowship

The Community Engagement Fellowship awards a maximum of five fellowships of up to $2,000 each year. These awards help graduate students develop and implement engagement or engaged-scholarship projects that involve innovative, sustainable approaches to complex social needs and that have an academic connection. The fellowships run from March to October, and fellows primarily work during the summer to implement their projects.

If you are a returning, full-time graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill, you are eligible to apply as an individual or part of a team. You will be given preference by working as part of an interdisciplinary student team. After you receive the fellowship award, you may also apply for an additional subsequent year of funding. As a fellow, you’ll work in collaboration with community partners and faculty mentors who are familiar with your topic or geographic area, and you will be responsible for the major planning and implementation of your project.

Ryan Nilsen

Senior Program Officer, Community Engagement
Carolina Center for Public Service, UNC-Chapel Hill, 205 Wilson St., Chapel Hill, NC

Carolina Center for Public Service

The Carolina Center for Public Service connects the energy and expertise of both the University and the community to provide students, faculty and staff with deep and transformative experiences, while meeting the needs of North Carolina and beyond. The Center strengthens the University’s public service commitment by promoting scholarship and service that are responsive to the concerns of the state and contribute to the common good. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can participate in a variety of engaged scholarship and service programs offered by the center that allow you to collaborate with others and find interdisciplinary solutions to local and global challenges.

Lynn Blanchard

Carolina Center for Public Service, 205 Wilson St., Chapel Hill, NC

Ronald W. Hyatt Rotary Public Service Award

The Carolina Center for Public Service administers the Ronald W. Hyatt Rotary Public Service Award to support innovative public service projects that exemplify the motto of Rotary International: “Service Above Self.” This annual award is sponsored by the Chapel Hill Rotary Club and is named for the late Ronald W. Hyatt, professor of exercise and sport science at UNC-Chapel Hill and longtime member of the Chapel Hill Rotary Club. The award recognizes Hyatt’s distinguished career at the University and his commitment to helping others. To be considered, you must be an undergraduate or graduate student, and you may choose to apply individually or as part of a team. If your local project involves members of the Chapel Hill Rotary Club in some way, there is a possibility for you to earn additional funds.

Lynn Blanchard

Director, Carolina Center for Public Service
Carolina Center for Public Service, UNC-Chapel Hill, 205 Wilson St., Chapel Hill, NC

Development Finance Initiative

The Development Finance Initiative (DFI) at the UNC School of Government partners with local governments in North Carolina to attract private investment for transformative projects by providing specialized finance and development expertise. If you work in local government, you can collaborate with DFI on a variety of projects that require private investment and will benefit your community: building reuse, community development, downtown revitalization, economic development, neighborhood redevelopment and small business finance.

Marcia Perritt

Associate Director, Development Finance Initiative
UNC School of Government, Knapp-Sanders Building, CB 3330, Chapel Hill, NC

C. Felix Harvey Award

The Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost encourages faculty to submit proposals for the C. Felix Harvey Award to Advance Institutional Priorities: Applied Innovation of Humanities and Social Sciences Scholarly Expertise. The award recognizes exemplary faculty scholarship that reflects UNC-Chapel Hill’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation via the successful implementation of a novel, valuable idea. If you are a full- or part-time faculty member (excluding adjuncts) at Carolina and have a proposed project that applies humanities and/or social sciences methods or approaches to directly and positively impact constituencies outside the University, you are eligible to apply. One award of $75,000 will be given to support a project of up to 15 months.

Mark Meares

Associate Vice Chancellor, Corporate and Foundation Relations and Talent Management
Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UNC-Chapel Hill, South Building, Chapel Hill, NC

Kenan-Biddle Grants

The Kenan Biddle Partnership, funded by the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, was initiated in 2009 to foster collaboration between students at Duke and UNC. Starting in 2017, the revitalized partnership will annually award $55,000 to projects led by student at both universities. Applicants are invited to propose an innovative initiative that addresses a social or environmental need within the campus communities, Triangle, or beyond.

Jakelin Bonilla

Social Innovation Initiative Coordinator, The Campus Y at UNC-Chapel Hill
Campus Y, 180A E. Cameron Ave., UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellowship at Eshelman Institute for Innovation

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellowship was created as a two-year post-doctoral training program based in the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. As a fellow, you gain experience assisting with the identification, protection and commercialization of intellectual property, while helping to educate and train faculty, students and postdoctoral fellows. You’ll also support faculty inventors and pharmacy-founded startup companies, collaborate with on- and off-campus entities involved in innovation and entrepreneurial development, and provide oversight of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation MicroIncubator, including facility use agreements.

Alexandra Sturchio

Awards Program Manager, Eshelman Institute for Innovation, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars

The Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program brings together selected faculty from across campus to engage in a two-year experiential, competency-based curriculum designed to advance their engaged scholarship. As a scholar in this program, you will participate in sessions in community settings to learn from other Carolina faculty and your community partners. While developing individual projects, your class of scholars will form a learning community along with the faculty and community course directors to support one another’s projects and community partners. By becoming part of a growing network of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars, you can experience outcomes similar to those reported by other scholars in the program, including new interdisciplinary collaborations, successful grant applications, and both traditional and non-traditional products of your scholarship. As a scholar, you receive a stipend of $5,000 per year, for each of the two years ($10,000 in total). You also receive support from experienced faculty and community partners, while gaining access to a series of workshops, panels and case studies by leading Carolina faculty, funding program officers, and community and national experts.

Lynn Blanchard

Director, Carolina Center for Public Service
Carolina Center for Public Service, UNC-Chapel Hill, 205 Wilson St., Chapel Hill, NC

Acumen Global Fellowship

The Acumen Global Fellowship is a 12-month program that trains the next generation of social impact leaders. The fellowship offers you the chance to gain world-class leadership training and serve in the field with a social enterprise. To be eligible for the fellowship, you need to have a minimum of four years of work experience.

Fulbright Fellowship

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the US government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. If you have a strong academic background, leadership potential, a passion for increasing mutual understanding among nations and cultures, and the adaptability and flexibility to pursue your proposed Fulbright project successfully, you may consider applying for the program. There are opportunities for you to apply the Fulbright Fellowship to an entrepreneurship initiative.

Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship

The Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship supports visionary leaders by giving them boundless space to turn an inspired idea in the field of social justice into a world-changing reality. The fellowship awards three individuals up to $150,000 each to pursue an innovative project that seeks to address a challenge related to climate change or inequality – or within the intersection of these two major issues. To be eligible for the fellowship, you must be a US citizen whose project is focused on work within the United States.

BALLE Local Economy Fellowship

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is the nation’s only fellowship focused on the development of a new economy that is healthy and equitable. Whether you’re a leading local social enterprise incubator, community business network, or regional food lab, as a Local Economy Fellow, you’ll have the chance to pioneer a new economic vision. This immersive program will equip you with the most cutting-edge leadership and capacity-building skills to advance your work, connect you with peers across North America, and provide a national platform to share your model so that other regions can learn from it. Over the course of the two-year program, you will participate in six to eight gatherings. For each cohort, the BALLE fellowship considers its fellows’ home cities when planning immersion locations.

Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

The Skoll Foundation presents the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship each year to a select group of social entrepreneurs whose innovations have already had significant, proven impact on some of the world’s most pressing problems, and invests directly in the promise of even greater impact at scale. Each Awardee receives a $1.25 million, three-year core support investment to scale their work and increase their impact. Awardees are selected with a focus on one or more of the following issues: Environmental Sustainability, Education, Economic Opportunity, Health, Peace and Human Rights, and Sustainable Markets.

Artist as Activist Fellowship

The Robert Rasuchenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellowship grants fellows up to $100,000 over a two year period to work full-time on an ambitious creative project that tackles a social issue. The program is comprised of three distinct grant opportunities: individual fellowships to US–based artists and art collectives with a demonstrated commitment to applying their creative work toward a social or political action; travel and research grants for similarly focused artists; and general operating support to organizations that have been exemplars in supporting artists who work at the intersection of art and change. In addition to funding, you receive access to opportunities for professional advancement and to independent artists and art collectives committed to social engagement. To receive a fellowship, you must apply and be identified through a highly competitive open call for proposals.

NC IDEA Seed Grant

Twice a year, NC IDEA provides seed grants of up to $50,000 to startup companies based in North Carolina. If your startup receives one of these grants, you can use the funds to support business activities that validate potential markets, reduce risk of early failure and advance projects to the point of self-sustainability, at which time they are suitable for private equity investment. If you have technology-based business with the potential to become a high-growth company, you may be eligible to apply for an NC IDEA seed grant. Additionally, you may also be able to take advantage of the NC IDEA Ecosystem Partner Grant of up to $250,000, which is available to both nonprofit and for-profit organizations in North Carolina with new or existing initiatives and innovative ideas.

Forbes 30 Under 30

Each year, Forbes welcomes nominations for the world’s greatest roll call of young entrepreneurs and game-changers. Tell Forbes who should appear on the annual 30 Under 30 list by submitting nominations. Once you apply, Forbes will evaluate your application based on a set of metrics, such as funding, revenue and the number of people you’ve reached. It also considers other qualities, including your inventiveness and the social value you’ve provided.

The Stevie Awards

The Stevie Awards are the world’s premier business awards. They were created in 2002 to honor and generate public recognition of the achievements and positive contributions of organizations and working professionals worldwide. The Stevie Awards include multiple award categories, including the American Business Awards, the International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service. As an award entrant, you will have access to the comments about your nomination made by the panel of judges, who include many of the world’s most respected executives, entrepreneurs, innovators, and business educators.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award

The Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award is a European initiative looking for businesses, projects or ideas that have recognized a social problem and linked its solution with an innovative, profitable business idea. Approximately 1,800 entrepreneurs from 85 countries around the world submit their innovative projects. If you have an idea, project or business model linked to sustainable entrepreneurship, you are invited to submit an application for the award, regardless of your organization’s size, industry or country.  If your project is named one of the 10 best submissions, you’ll be nominated for the award as a finalist. Should your project be named the most outstanding among these finalists, you would then be awarded the jury prize of 10,000 euros.

Entrepreneur 360 Awards looks for the best privately-owned businesses founded by entrepreneurs in the US. These awards celebrate the grit, passion and success of top entrepreneurs in front of the world. To be eligible, your business must be a privately owned, US-based company and cannot be a franchisee or franchisor. In addition, one of the original founders must still be involved in the day-to-day operations of your business. These awards provide you recognition as a thought leader in the entrepreneurial community and offer you exclusive networking opportunities and media coverage.

Youth Business International: Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

The Young Entrepreneur Awards, hosted by Youth Business International in partnership with Barclays, demonstrate the contributions that young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 to 35 can make around the world. As a young entrepreneur and winner of the award, you’ll be paired by Youth Business International with an experienced volunteer business mentor who is on hand to guide you through the challenging early stages of establishing a business.

Strowd Roses Awards

The Strowd Roses awards are grants to qualified nonprofit organizations based in Chapel Hill or Carrboro or organizations devoted primarily to benefiting those communities. The Strowd Roses foundation awards an average of 55 grants per year totaling $260,000. As a grant recipient your organization may, at the board’s discretion, use the funds for operating support, as well as capital expenditures, seed money and matching grants. As an individual recipient, you may use the grant for a scholarship or fellowship; to produce a report or similar product; or to improve or enhance a literary, artistic, musical, scientific, teaching or similar capacity, skill or talent, which you will use to benefit the life of the Chapel Hill or Carrboro communities.

North Carolina Technology Association Awards

Each year, a review committee, comprised of economic development, education, media, nonprofit and technology leaders from across the state, select the finalists and winners of the Annual NC Tech Awards. Award categories include: top 10 startups to watch, software company, communications technology company, industry-driven technology, most innovative product, best consumer web company, new media/digital company, best place to work, fast-growth small company, fast-growth large company, analytics, business value, customer service, e-commerce, energy and the environment, and health and wellness. You can submit an application for your own organization or nominate your customers or partners. If  you are selected as a winner, you will be recognized at the annual NC Tech Awards Gala.

Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards

Recognized as one of the most prestigious business award programs in the US, the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards celebrate the country’s most innovative business leaders both nationally and regionally by state. If you are a successful entrepreneur, you may submit a self-nomination. Or, if you are closely associated with another entrepreneur, such as a spouse, employee, banker, attorney, public relations manager, you may also submit a nomination on the candidate’s behalf.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards

Each year, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce unveils the recipients of 10 Business of the Year award categories and a dozen People’s Choice categories. The Business of the Year Awards include these categories: university-born business, new business, micro-enterprise, Chapel Hill Young Professionals Under 40, midsize business, business woman of the year, large business, community impact, nonprofit, and innovation. In addition, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce unveils additional community service, citizen, and partnership awards to the community. As a winner, you’ll be invited to a red carpet ceremony complete with a cocktail reception, awards ceremony, entertainment and after party.

Triangle Business Journal Awards

Each year, the Triangle Business Journal unveils multiple innovation, business and leadership awards. These awards are given based on nominations from local companies and individuals as well as submissions from third-party committees made up of local industry leaders. The awards include the Fast 50 Awards, the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards, the Life Sciences Awards, the Leaders in Diversity Awards, the Health Care Heroes Awards, the CIO Awards, and the Women in Business Awards. Once you submit your award application, a panel of judges will review it among the pool of nominees and vet and score each one, ultimately selecting a winner for each category.

Do Something Awards

Since 1996, has honored the nation’s best young change-makers, ages 25 and under. Do Something Award finalists have made a significant difference in furthering their causes. If you are chosen as one of the five finalists, you will receive a $10,000 grant to continue your work. You will also benefit from media coverage and the support of the team at If named the grand prize winner, you will be awarded a $100,000 grant to take your initiative to the next level.

Camelback Ventures Fellowship

The Camelback Ventures Fellowship offers funding and support to new leaders with promising ideas, empowering them to enact change within their communities. As an entrepreneur and fellow participating in the six-month program, you receive coaching, capital and connections. You also benefit from dedicated one-on-one coaching related to strategy, accountability and support. The fellowship can also provide you with specialized coaching in key areas (such as budget management and pitch deck design), along with peer mentorship within your purposefully chosen cohort. As a fellow, you’ll receive an investment of up to $40,000 in your venture (capital) and have the chance to engage in in-person summits to develop technical skills, as well as to deepen your relationships with tech talent, investors and other partners.

Impact Assets

Impact Assets 50 is a resource guide showcasing all of the impact investment fund managers. When using it, you can filter search results by sector including: clean technology, education, fair trade, global health, health and wellness, housing and community development, media, technology, and mobile, microfinance and financial services, natural resources and conservation, sustainable agriculture, small and medium business development, and water and sanitation. Assets of these fund managers range from less than $10 million to more than $250 million.

River Cities Capital Funds

River Cities Capital Funds is one of the most active and experienced growth equity funds in health care and information technology. With nearly $500 million under management and more than 100 investments made, River Cities has established itself as a preferred partner among the entrepreneurial and private equity communities. It targets companies generating more than $5 million in revenue and provides an initial investment of $5 million to $15 million. If you are a progressive and proven leader with a company that has a disruptive solution in a large, established market, Rivers Cities may be an outstanding partner for you to contact.

Rex Health Ventures

Rex Health Ventures (RHV) supports the discovery and development of new treatments, tools, products and services that foster innovation and positively impact the provision of health care. RHV invests in and partners with companies and entrepreneurs to help bring their products and services to the health care marketplace. If you have an early-stage idea or a mid-stage company, consider contacting RHV to discover the opportunities that may be available for your organization.

Pappas Ventures

Pappas Ventures is a Durham-based venture capital firm that invests exclusively in the life sciences industry – biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals, drug delivery, medical devices and related ventures. It evaluates more than 700 investment opportunities in a typical year. With longstanding relationships throughout the industry, it can help you find talent for your team. Its in-depth knowledge of the drug development process also enables its management teams to provide you with insightful guidance and help you craft effective clinical and regulatory strategies. Working with Pappas Ventures also allows you to tap into its extensive professional network, which can further advance your company.

Intersouth Partners

Based in Durham, Intersouth Partners seeks a broad range of investment opportunities in the technology and life science sectors. Intersouth manages $780 million in seven venture capital limited partnerships, making it the largest venture capital fund in North Carolina and one of the largest in the Southeast. It invests in seed and early-stage companies that have the potential to become market leaders by creating breakthrough technologies in their respective sectors. Its strong preference is to participate in the first institutional round of a company with an initial investment between $500,000 and $6 million and with an average total investment in a single company of $12 million.

IDEA Fund Partners

Based in Durham, IDEA Fund Partners is one of the most active seed and early-stage venture investors in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast. It typically provides the first institutional money for the companies in which it invests. IDEA Fund Partners likes to make small initial investments and set aside plenty of follow-on capital for future rounds. It has invested as little as $100,000 and as much as $750,000 in a round, and can invest up to $1.5 million over the life of a company. IDEA Fund Partners looks for several investment criteria: You must demonstrate great management, and your company should have the potential to become a leader in the field through the application of unique and defensible technologies and business models. In addition, it will look for you to have a technology that’s disruptive to existing markets or that can enable an entirely new one.

Hatteras Venture Partners

Based in Durham, Hatteras Venture Partners is a venture capital firm formed to invest primarily in early-stage companies (typically in the Research Triangle Park area) with a focus on biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, health care IT and related opportunities in human medicine. If you have a new biomedical company, your organization can benefit from working with the firm’s experienced team, which has a broad and complementary skill set that is particularly relevant to building successful companies in the life sciences sector. The Hatteras team can bring your company operational experience, a successful track record, and a proven ability to enhance the value businesses with which it works.

Golden Pine Ventures

Golden Pine Ventures is a venture capital company that seeks out biotechnology and biomedical opportunities developed by leading researchers and grows them into valuable businesses. It is focused on opportunities in the Research Triangle Park region that have the potential to yield a substantial return within a three to five-year period. As it evaluates your company as an investment opportunity, the management of Golden Pine Ventures will look for you to meet the following criteria: technical feasibility, favorable market prospects, multiple unique products or services, strong intellectual property and the active participation your scientific champion.

Excelerate Health Ventures

Based in the Research Triangle Park area, Excelerate Health Ventures invests in groundbreaking companies that change the way health care works. Its unique advantage includes its ability to assemble and apply the domain expertise and contacts of its network of providers, payers, and strategic partners to select, validate, mentor and grow its portfolio companies. Excelerate Health Ventures typically invests in early-stage companies that are raising their seed or first institutional round. If you have a pre-seed or seed-stage startups, it can provide you with consulting and advising services regarding new venture creation, help prepare your company for angel and/or venture funding, and assist you with a go-to market strategy. Your company may benefit from a variety of the firm’s services: mentoring, networking, business planning, marketing, event planning, branding, sales channel development, organizational planning and recruitment.

Cato Bioventures

Cato Bioventures invests in innovative therapeutics, medical devices and stem cell technologies that improve pharma’s research and development productivity. Drug development, including pre-clinical studies, clinical studies, manufacturing, and regulatory affairs, have been the core components of the Cato Research business model for more than 30 years. Cato BioVentures focuses on early- to mid-stage investment opportunities in private companies and undervalued public companies. It seeks to invest in companies with a reasonable business model built on innovative drug candidates or technologies supported by a strong intellectual property position and a solid pathway to commercialization. To introduce your company to Cato BioVentures, you will need to send the firm an executive summary (1 to 5 pages), roadshow (corporate presentation) and business plan, if available.

Piedmont Angel Network

The Piedmont Angel Network (PAN) is a committed capital angel fund that focuses on investment opportunities in early-stage companies that present high-growth opportunities. Since 2002, PAN has invested in numerous companies, focusing primary on the life science, technology, software and advanced materials fields. While the fund prefers to invest in companies from the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, PAN has made investments across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The first investment from the fund is between $250,000 and $350,000, with possible add-ons from individual PAN members or other investors. To introduce your company to PAN, you will first submit an executive summary to the fund executive. If your plan has potential for funding, the fund executive will request a full business plan from you to see that your plan is complete.

Triangle Angel Partners

Triangle Angel Partners (TAP) is an experienced group of angel investors who invest their time, analysis and money into early life cycle companies in the high-tech and life sciences industries. TAP members, who are executives, PhDs, successful entrepreneurs and professional investors, can give your company more than just capital; they can also provide you with counseling, mentoring and access to an extensive network of potential investors, customers, strategic partners and management talent. TAP is also unique because it shares deal flow with other venture capital affiliates throughout North Carolina, southern Virginia and northern South Carolina.

SOAR Triangle

SoarTriangle is a program of NC IDEA that provides mentorship and advocacy to address the proven funding gap that female entrepreneurs face when they start scalable businesses in North Carolina. Its Deep Mentoring Program lasts for approximately nine months and is targeted to female-led ventures that plan to seek funding within 12 to 18 months. If you are a female leading a venture, you can apply and interview for a spot in the program. If you are selected as a member of a future cohort,  SoarTriangle will craft a customized program to meet your needs. The program is run by a combination of S Principals and Advisors, and its goal is to help your company achieve a funding event within 18 months of starting the program and securing investment.

Investors’ Circle

Investors’ Circle (IC) is the largest and most active early-stage impact investing network. Together with hundreds of angels, venture capitalists, foundations and family offices, IC has propelled over $200 million into more than 300 enterprises dedicated to improving the environment, education, health and community. If your company chooses to apply, IC will screen your application and make it available to its member network. If your company is located in one of IC’s local network network regions (CO, DC, MA, NC, NY, or PA), or you have a presence/specific connection to a local network region, you will be considered for upcoming pitch meetings.

SJF Ventures

With an office based in Durham, SJF Ventures’ experienced venture capital investors have been at the forefront of impact investing since 1999. SJF invests in high-growth companies that create a healthier, smarter and cleaner future. It is looking for companies with proven customer validation and typically more than $1 million in annualized revenue. It normally invests $1 million to $10 million during the period in which it is involved with a company. Beyond the capital SJF can provide your business, its principals draw from a wealth of sector expertise, personal networks and investment experience to help your company develop growth strategies, recruit talent, obtain future capital, execute company acquisitions and navigate other business dynamics.

Tom’s Social Entrepreneurship Fund

Tom’s Social Entrepreneurship Fund is a follow-on investor that invests in the next generation of entrepreneurs using business to improve lives. To be considered for an equity investment from the TOMS Social Entrepreneurship Fund, your company must be a for-profit business with an innovative business model that has a direct social mission. You must have a product or service with a clear revenue stream and paying customers, and you must have launched or be preparing to launch within the next 90 days. You will also need to have secured a minimum of $100,000 of commitments from other accredited investors, venture capital funds or a startup accelerator.


Techstars is much more than a three-month mentorship-driven accelerator program. It makes entrepreneurship accessible by opening doors to capital, mentorship, marketing, business development, customer acquisition and talent recruitment. The program’s global ecosystem of founders, mentors, investors and corporate partners work together to create a network of support that lasts throughout your entrepreneurial journey. Once your company is accepted in the program, you will automatically be offered a $100,000 convertible note, $20,000 in exchange for 6 percent common stock with an equity-back guarantee, and 400 perks worth over $1 million. You can also connect with founders, mentors and investors at local alumni events, the program’s annual founder celebration and at other meetings.

Y Combinator

Twice a year, Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($120,000) in a large number of startups (approximately 100). If your startup is selected for the program, you will move to Silicon Valley for three months, and Y Combinator will work intensively with you to get your company into the best possible shape and refine its pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day, when your startup will present to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.

ThinkImpact Fellowship

ThinkImpact connects college students and recent graduates in the US with partners in Rwanda, Panama, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana to work on social entrepreneurship through ThinkImpact’s Global Development Internships and Fellowships. ThinkImpact operates in-country year-round and runs institutes anywhere from seven days to eight weeks. With ThinkImpact, you become trained in design thinking, social entrepreneurship and fieldwork, while starting or contributing to a real enterprise that can generate incomes, promote health, reduce hunger, empower community engagement or provide education.

Leadership exCHANGE Fellowship

Leadership exCHANGE seeks to empower the next generation of change agents. Join students from more than 80 different countries who have participated in its various fellowship programs that run throughout the year in Prague and Raleigh. You can benefit from a variety of study abroad programs, including academic courses, workshops, leadership training, community service and cultural activities. By living and learning alongside young people from around the world, you will have the opportunity learn about country where you are studying as well as a wide range of cultures. Studying in this environment gives you the chance to learn the true meaning of global citizenship.

Kairos Society Fellowship

Kairos North Carolina is dedicated to promoting an entrepreneurial spirit among university students in North Carolina. To become a member of the Kairos Society, you must receive an invitation and a formal recommendation from one of the organization’s many advisers or partners. To be eligible, you need to be an entrepreneur, scientist, engineer or designer under age 25. When nominated as a prospective fellow, you are invited to submit an application for review. Once accepted as a fellow, you are given a unique membership number and credentials to the organization’s private social service. You also receive access to regional Kairos events and the organization’s international summits in New York City and Den Haag.

University Innovation Fellows

The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become leaders of change in higher education. Fellows are creating student innovation spaces, founding entrepreneurship organizations, hosting experiential events, and working with faculty and administrators to develop courses. They range from undergraduates to PhD students and study a wide variety of disciplines. By becoming a part of this program, you serve as an advocate for lasting institutional change with academic leaders and represent UNC-Chapel Hill at national events.  As a fellow, you may choose to work independently at Carolina while collaborating with faculty and peers, or you may opt to work as part of an on-campus team of up to four fellows called a “Leadership Circle.”

Ashoka Fellowship

Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship more than 35 years ago, and today it engages the world’s largest and most powerful network of social entrepreneurs by searching for and selecting Ashoka Fellows. As a fellow, you receive a tailored stipend for up to three years, if needed, to dedicate yourself full time to the advancement of your idea. You also benefit from customized engagement opportunities that accelerate the impact of your idea, increased visibility, and the ability to connect with a global community of peers.

Bluhm / Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship

The Bluhm / Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship supports innovators from around the world in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors who are using their work for positive social change. The fellowship recognizes exceptional entrepreneurs under the age of 35 who are working to solve pressing social challenges. This fellowship gives you exposure to nationally-recognized business and civic leaders and the opportunity to establish a community of support with past fellows. As a fellow, you are awarded $10,000 toward your work and get to participate in Chicago Ideas Week, a week-long ideas festival featuring world-class speakers and thinkers.

Echoing Green Fellowship

As an Echoing Green Fellow, you receive an individual stipend of $80,000 (or $90,000 for two-person partnerships) paid in four equal installments over two years as well as a health insurance stipend and yearly professional development stipend. You also join a community of like-minded social entrepreneurs, public service leaders and industry leaders, including the Echoing Green network of more than 700 fellows working in 60 countries around the world. You benefit from leadership development, peer mentorship, networking opportunities and the assistance of a dedicated Echoing Green portfolio manager who facilitates access to technical expertise and pro bono partnerships. The signature Global Fellowship is open to any social entrepreneur, from anywhere in the world, with an innovative solution for any issue. The Black Male Achievement Fellowship supports leaders dedicated to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys in the United States. The Climate Fellowship was launched for leaders committed to mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Venture for America Fellowship

Venture for America is a fellowship program that places recent graduates at startups in cities with emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems, forging a community of entrepreneurs committed to building companies that matter. As a fellow, you will spend five weeks at Training Camp, learning the hard and soft skills you will need to excel at a startup; work for two years at a high-growth company in one of our 17 cities, learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship; join a tight-knit community of like-minded builders; and gain access to the resources that will help you build something of your own, from community initiatives to startups.


ThinkHouse is a 10-month, pre-accelerator fellowship program in Raleigh, North Carolina. This action-learning, residential program is based out of a fully renovated house that serves as a co-living space for entrepreneurs. As a ThinkHouse fellow, you get the environment, network, resources and skills required to build a profitable and scalable company. In addition to a strong emphasis on personal leadership development and team building, the ThinkHouse program immerses you in a hands-on boot camp designed to help young entrepreneurs develop a viable product or service and earn revenue. You can also work out of HQ Raleigh, a dynamic entrepreneurial co-working space within easy biking distance to ThinkHouse. To be eligible, you must call the Research Triangle area your primary home for the duration of the fellowship and must be working full-time on your venture.

Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) is the premier global competition for students who own and operate a business while attending a college or university. As an award nominee, you’ll compete against your peers from around the world in a series of local and/or national competitions to qualify for the GSEA finals. If you’re an undergraduate student who has owned and operated a business for at least six months, you’re eligible to participate.