Start A Venture

Acquire the fundamentals to turn your idea into a commercial startup or social venture. Get started with incubators, support services and coaching
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Launch Chapel Hill Startup Accelerator

Launch Chapel Hill is an international award-winning startup accelerator and co-working space located in downtown Chapel Hill that is managed by Innovate Carolina. It was created in 2013 through a partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill, the Town of Chapel Hill, Orange County and a private donor. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to build an early-stage, high-potential business into a self-sustaining enterprise, consider applying to join the program’s next cohort.


Ask an Innovator

If you’re working on an innovation, entrepreneurial project or a new venture, you’re bound to have questions — and lots of them.  Ask an Innovator is an online tool that makes quick and easy to get expert advice from a Carolina-connected community of experienced innovators and entrepreneurs. Simply send your questions online, and you’ll be paired with one or more experts who are ready to assist. It’s free and available for you to use whenever a question pops to mind.


With an open, flexible workspace conveniently located at 173 E. Franklin Street in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, 1789 Venture Lab is the bridge between your on-campus entrepreneurial activity and the larger world. If you are a UNC-Chapel Hill student or alumnus who is interested in starting your own venture, you can receive special support, including access to relevant mentors, business coaches and essential services (legal, accounting, etc.). You can also take advantage of regular workshops, office hours and events.

KickStart Venture Services

KickStart Venture Services, which is part of the Office of Technology Commercialization at UNC-Chapel Hill, helps Carolina faculty form, develop and grow startup companies based on University intellectual property. If you are a faculty member working on an IP-based startup, the KickStart team can provide you with coaching, mentoring and early-stage funding. The team can also connect you with key service providers and offer guidance about issues related to company management, investors and space.

CUBE Social Innovation Incubator

CUBE is UNC-Chapel Hill’s social innovation incubator at the Campus Y where students and faculty tackle pressing social issues: food security, clean water, clean tech, STEM education, etc. If you have an idea for a social venture, you can apply to to join the CUBE program. If your venture is selected, you can receive seed funding, mentoring, co-working space, pro-bono support services, and the expert feedback from renowned social entrepreneurs you need to create a successful social enterprise.

Resources for Minority and Female Entrepreneurs

A wide variety of socially driven organizations and minority- and female-led ventures make a tremendous social and economic impact in communities across the region, state, country and globe. Innovate Carolina is here to support their work. Innovate Carolina has coordinated with entrepreneurial experts to publish a running list of resources available from organizations across the local region, state and country that support minority- and female-led startups and ventures.


Entrepreneurship Center

The UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School is committed to developing transformative entrepreneurial leaders as founders, funders and growth executives. To support that commitment, the Entrepreneurship Center offers a comprehensive array of curricular and co-curricular programs. Through a broad-spectrum entrepreneurship curriculum, the center offers you a collaborative, hands-on and results-driven learning environment designed to build an entrepreneurial mindset.

Venture Catalyst Program

The Venture Catalyst Program allows UNC startups, serial entrepreneur coaches and talented graduate students to converge and collaborate. It includes two connected opportunities: Catalyst Coaching Sessions that connect UNC startup founders with serial entrepreneurs who provide expert advice, connections and mentorship via pitch-based coaching; and Venture Catalyst Fellows, who are Carolina MBA students, doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows engaged in experiential learning with startups.

UNC Reese Innovation Lab

The Reese Innovation Lab works to create and share novel and immersive storytelling experiences that engage audiences by leveraging new technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality with unique, research-based perspectives. Students and faculty use new technologies and human-centered design concept solve challenging problems for media companies. Projects are rooted in scientific and consumer/audience research and leverage collaborations with subject-matter experts across the university and many industries.

Workroom FashionMash

Workroom FashionMash is both a workspace for prototyping and building, as well as a way of thinking. Since 2009, the program has given advertising students in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Media and Journalism School the chance to work directly with fashion and lifestyle brands to envision new ideas. As a student, you’ll work with clients to move beyond the page or screen and bring concepts to life.

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE) Lab

The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE) Lab at UNC School of Social Work supports students and faculty in exploring, designing, and implementing new ways of addressing complex social problems. SIE Lab has helped Master of Social Work students launch social venture startups and offers space for meetings and co-working within the School.

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. This fund provides you with the seed funding you need to ideate, create ventures and move startups from concept to reality.

Dreamers-Who-Do Award

The Dreamers-Who-Do Award helps UNC students advance their ideas and turn novel concepts into concrete solutions. This award provides students with financial support for projects, programs and initiatives that help them learn what it means to be innovators and entrepreneurs. As an award recipient, you’ll put entrepreneurial insights into practice. Activities may involve on-campus programs or travel to off-campus competitions, conferences and events that help you develop an innovative mindset.

Center for Health Innovation

The UNC Center for Health Innovation operated by the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care is a space to experiment with the creative disruption of health care delivery. It supports moving great ideas toward implementation, provides a forum for public-private partnerships, and serves as a learning laboratory where internal and external partners can test their visions for a healthier future. Are you innovative person or part of an organization that wants to help transform the national health care delivery system? If so, the Center team invites you to collaborate.
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Faculty Innovation Workshop

This workshop helps faculty strengthen the skills used by successful innovators. Using design-thinking and lean startup methodologies, the workshop builds and strengthens skills in ideation, problem-solving, team building, and entrepreneurial practices that can help faculty take an idea through to successful implementation and impact. As a participant, you are guided by design and entrepreneurship educators who encourage and support thinking and working in nimble ways.
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Startup UNC

Startup UNC (formerly Launch the Venture) is a new ventures course designed to help students, faculty, staff and alumni take a business idea or scientific innovation to market. The course starts by assessing the nascent ideas and technologies from the perspective of customer need, product-market fit, competition and value proposition. Using a lean startup approach, teams get to a go/no-go decision and may then develop a strategic roadmap and financial plans for launching the business.

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

Patent Landscape and Market Research Service

Wondering if you’ve got the next great invention? Is it really novel? Who would buy it as a product or a service? What funding opportunities exist that may help get your invention from lab to market? The Patent Landscaping and Market Research Service is available to current UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff, and students at no cost, and to organizations outside the University for a fee. This service helps you assess your technology, the marketplace and potential investment funding.

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.

Eshelman Institute for Innovation

The Eshelman Institute for Innovation accelerates the creation and development of ideas that lead to discoveries and transformative changes in education, research and health care. Through strategic collaborations inside and outside of UNC-Chapel Hill, the institute creates jobs and spurs economic development in North Carolina and beyond. Whether you are a UNC faculty member, student or part of the staff, the institute can provide you with resources to engage in timely, opportunistic, creative, risky and innovative work that advances the mission of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

UNC School of Law Institute for Innovation

Located on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, the UNC School of Law Institute for Innovation provides early stage legal counsel to new for-profit and nonprofit ventures. Made possible by a generous gift from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust and support from the North Carolina General Assembly, the Institute serves business and social enterprise entrepreneurs on the campuses of UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, in partnership with UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and NC State University’s Poole College of Management, as well as the innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructures on both campuses.

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.
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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.

Innovation Showcase

The annual Innovation Showcase at UNC-Chapel Hill is hosted by Innovate Carolina under the Vice Chancellor’s Office for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. This is your chance to connect with other enterprising researchers and business enthusiasts – including UNC faculty and students – whose work is poised to make a significant economic impact in North Carolina and beyond. You’ll get to meet and learn from the most inventive minds at Carolina as they share their latest innovations with the entrepreneurial and investment community. Hear their pitches, see their demos, and have in-depth conversations to understand the inspiration behind their ideas.

Carolina THINK

Carolina THINK is a student organization that serves as the entrepreneurship club for undergraduate students. The organization raises awareness and interest in the entrepreneurial field and helps students discover entrepreneurship as a discipline that expands beyond the confines of conventional business. Carolina THINK shows students that everyone has the potential of becoming an entrepreneur. Besides hosting a wide range of events to help students develop the connections and skills they need to succeed as entrepreneurs, the organization helps students by pointing them towards available resources on campus to ensure that everyone has a smooth entrepreneurial journey without feeling lost.

NC TraCS Institute

The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, the integrated home of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program at UNC, is supported through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Consortium members share a common vision to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, and to engage communities in clinical research efforts. If you are a principal investigator working in clinical and translational science, you can benefit from working with faculty and staff experts across NC TraCS who can provide you with with targeted, comprehensive and interdisciplinary solutions related to your area of focus. These include a no-cost, personalized mentoring program that offers you highly specialized expertise in translational research.

Carolina Creates

Carolina Creates is UNC’s Incubator for Student Creativity. The mission of the student organization is to foster innovative creation on campus by providing the resources needed to make ideas happen. Examples of successfully incubated projects include campus organizations like TEDxUNC and Should Does. Carolina Creates is sponsored by Innovate Carolina and UNC Student Affairs.

Carolina Union Communications and Creative Services

Carolina Union Communications and Creative Services helps UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty and staff create targeted communications about their organizations. If you’d like to market your department or group, you can collaborate with Design Services on print and web/interactive design projects. By taking advantage of print and digital channels, your group can attract more members, advertise your mission or purpose, direct people through physical space, or promote an event, contest or survey.

Watson University Incubator

Watson University is the first incubator leading to a degree for the world’s next generation of change-makers and social entrepreneurs. As a student in the program, you may go through the semester incubator or the bachelor’s degree track. The Watson University incubator also offers you master courses taught by leading mentors, practitioners and entrepreneurs as well as training in social entrepreneurship and personal development. Additionally, you can apply to Watson’s semester program to incubate your idea before (gap year), during or immediately after your undergraduate studies.

Audacity Factory

Audacity Factory is an accelerator and collaborative located in Raleigh that is focused on ending modern-day slavery. If you are a social innovators with ideas toward this cause and are accepted into the accelerator, you’ll be connected to mentors, advisors and a network as they work on audacious movements to fight modern slavery worldwide. You will focus on measurable impact, scalability and sustainability, while using technology and digital marketing best practices to engage millions.

HUSTLE Winston-Salem

HUSTLE Winston-Salem exists to facilitate and promote a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem by working with both entrepreneurs and community stakeholders. It focuses on and advocate for those that are most at-risk for systematic exclusion or marginalization in the local innovation economy: People of Color, including but not limited to, Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asians, Native Americans, and immigrants; women of all races, ages, classes, backgrounds, and education levels; marginalized neighborhoods for whom entrepreneurial development can serve as a catalyst for needed economic growth or that at risk for gentrification.


Around half of all new startups fail in the first 12 months. NC IDEA LABS helps founders make better decisions faster, and take the proper steps to avoid mistakes frequently made by new entrepreneurs. Essentially, it helps reduce risk. NC IDEA LABS looks a lot like a technology accelerator – it allows you to participate in a mentor-driven, selective, 12-week program. The difference is that it does not make an investment, and you do not have to give up equity in your company. You can take advantage of the program at no cost.


Techstars is 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.

American Underground

Whether you’re a solo-entrepreneur, remote employee or have a 30-person team, you can take advantage of unique workspaces at American Underground designed to accommodate any stage of your business life cycle. Benefit from a powerful community of thinkers and doers, plus events that help you network, learn and succeed. American Underground also serves as a Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub, which offers you unique access to Google and its products. Plus, with one location in Raleigh and three locations in downtown Durham, you can choose from the spot that works best for you.

The Frontier

Looking for a free place to plug in, a private office for your growing company, or something a bit larger in the Research Triangle Park area? Everyone that walks through the doors of The Frontier receives a bevy of benefits and can get connected to the larger local entrepreneurship community. This centrally located convening space in the heart of the Triangle gives you access to Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, events and parking. Even better, you’ll find that most of the space is free.
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