Launch a startup. Build a standout.  

Thinking about launching a new company or nonprofit? Or maybe you’ve already launched a startup and want to take the next step? If you’re considering – or currently working on – a startup, you already know that it takes a lot of hard work, grit, creativity and perseverance. But you might be surprised to discover that as a member of the Carolina I&E community, you have access to a team of advisors and a network of tools and resources that can become essential to your entrepreneurial journey.

Explore our startup services

Innovate Carolina offers a wide range of startup services to help current and soon-to-be founders who are connected to UNC-Chapel Hill get the support their ventures need to thrive. Our startup team can help you:

  • Identify and secure funding to establish and grow your startup
  • Set up a company lab or office workspace in one of our startup accelerators. 
  • Learn how to develop your venture through educational opportunities.
  • Connect with entrepreneurial mentors and coaches who can answer questions and provide guidance based on decades of collective startup experience.

We’ve been working with UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff, students and alumni for years to launch and establish their early-stage startups. We’re eager apply insights gained from working with these founders to help your venture take root and grow.

In addition to the following startup services provided directly by Innovate Carolina, we can also connect you to additional startup resources provided by a network other departments and programs at UNC-Chapel Hill and beyond. For a full listing of startup resources available to Carolina innovators, see our startup resources directory.

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Launch Chapel Hill

Launch Chapel Hill is an international award-winning startup accelerator located in downtown Chapel Hill. If you are entrepreneur who is committed to building an early-stage, high-potential business into a self-sustaining enterprise, consider applying to join the program’s next class of promising innovators. Launch’s 16-week program occurs twice a year and provides ventures with office space and amenities, mentorship, tech resources, and the chance to become part of a connected entrepreneurial community.
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1789

1789 is an open, flexible workspace and community designed for students. It is conveniently located on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill and is the bridge between your on-campus entrepreneurial activity and the larger world. If you are a student interested in starting your own venture, you can apply for funding via the 1789 Venture Fund, get advice from a network of 15 highly experience entrepreneurial mentors, access professional services and use this space to work on your idea
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KickStart Venture Services

KickStart Venture Services supports faculty startup formation, business development and growth by providing early-stage funding, accelerator space, coaching and mentoring, and connections to key service providers, management and investors. You can apply to receive funding through the KickStart Commercialization Awards. The 7,500-square-foot KickStart Accelerator located in the Genome Sciences Building on the Carolina campus provides IP-based, life science companies with convenient, affordable wet lab and office space.
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Venture Catalyst Program

The Venture Catalyst Program connects UNC-affiliated startup founders with a team of serial entrepreneurs who provide direct expert advice, connections and mentorship through pitch-based coaching. This group of highly experienced and successful entrepreneurs work together to help you achieve significant business milestones, build an advisory board, and make connections to entrepreneurs and funders. You’ll get access to venture coaches, angel investors, and student fellows to support your venture.
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Carolina Angel Network

The Carolina Angel Network (CAN) 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. Be part of a network of experienced alumni, donors and friends of UNC who are passionate about helping early-stage companies. Join as a member investor or apply as a UNC-connected company.
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Faculty Innovation Workshop

Over the past decade, this workshop has given Carolina’s most entrepreneurial researchers and teachers the chance to develop new skills that help them turn their ideas into new innovation projects initiatives, nonprofits and startup companies. Using design-thinking and lean startup methodologies, the workshop helps you build and strengthen skills in ideation, problem-solving, team building, and entrepreneurial practices that can help you make an impact with your idea.

Startup accelerator snapshots

Find the right Innovate Carolina startup accelerator for you.

For Faculty

  • 7,500 square feet of on-campus wet lab accelerator and office space.
  • Up to $50,000 in non-dilutive award funding to IP-based, faculty-led startups.
  • Coaching, mentoring and connection to investors, grant writing services and other service providers.
  • Advisory panel of startup and industry experts.

For Students

  • 3,500 square feet of co-working and incubator space in downtown Chapel Hill.
  • Three to four workshops or educational events per month.
  • Three rounds of seed funding disbursed annually through the 1789 Venture Fund.
  • 15 mentors to support venture development.

For All

  • 7,000 square feet of accelerator and co-working space in downtown Chapel Hill.
  • 2x per year, 16-week accelerator program.
  • $1,000 non-equity-based microgrants for all Launch companies.
  • Monthly lunch-and-learn sessions, fireside chats and networking events.

Connect with our team

Our team of startup specialists and advisors are ready to help you launch and develop your venture.

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Sheryl Waddell

Director Innovate Carolina Global Network, Innovate Carolina