Stories

With tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff immersed in what seems like limitless teaching, research and social engagement activities each day, it’s hard to fully grasp what takes place on a university campus. Even more difficult is understanding the social and economic effect of innovations sparked at a university once they extend beyond campus. Ideas move into communities. Discoveries reach the real world. And the lessons from class projects and internships translate into job-ready skills. We know that these activities all make a positive difference, but how do we demonstrate the impact?

One of the hardest lessons Nick Black learned through his service in the U.S. Army is that, too often, soldiers are lost to an adversary that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: suicide. Black’s experiences led him and two fellow servicemen to co-found Stop Soldier Suicide in 2010. They all knew soldiers who had faced daunting challenges and were determined to create a solution. With veterans at a 22 percent higher risk of suicide than their peers who have not served, the organization helps veterans and their families get help with suicide prevention.

Let’s say you’re a faculty member at a university in North Carolina, and you want to launch a startup. How can you get the early funding you need to be successful? What resources are available? And how do you identify and tap into the right resources at each step of your innovation journey as your venture grows? This three-part series examines the answers to these questions and more.

Let’s say you’re a faculty member at a university in North Carolina, and you want to launch a startup. How can you get the early funding you need to be successful? What resources are available? And how do you identify and tap into the right resources at each step of your innovation journey as your venture grows? This three-part series examines the answers to these questions and more.

Competing against five international teams for the Hult Prize — one of the most prestigious startup events in the world — the three Carolina students pitched their seaweed cultivation initiative called Phyta to world leaders at the United Nations headquarters.

The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SIE) lab was launched via the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC School of Social Work. This campus hub for innovation is exploring, promoting and nurturing inventive ways to solve complex social problems.

Local communities across the state continue to reap the economic benefits of startups launched by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, students and staff, according to a biannual report that analyzes the economic impact of the University’s commercial and social ventures

Local communities across the state continue to reap the economic benefits of startups launched by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, students and staff, according to a biannual report that analyzes the economic impact of the University’s commercial and social ventures.

After six years, 250 local companies mentored and more than $430 million in capital raised by these companies, a partnership Carolina made with three other Triangle universities and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is about to enter a new phase.

When Joe Nail was an undergraduate student at Carolina, he made a list of the 25 most significant challenges facing the world in the 21st century, ranging from rising sea levels to a widespread distrust in government. He couldn’t solve them all. But he wasn’t content looking the other way.

When students take a course, they define success in any number of ways: good grades, learning new skills or expanding their knowledge, to name a few. You’ll find very few, however, who define success as experiencing failure. Yet, a new design and making course at UNC-Chapel Hill teaches students that to move forward, they must first endure a few steps backwards.

Most people you pass on the street have a general understanding of augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR). But a team of undergrads at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by Brian Moynihan of the UNC Health Sciences Library, are not only creating a new way of thinking about these technologies, but exploring new possibilities for thinking with them.

Every spring, small groups of the most enterprising faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill experience flashbacks of sitting in class as undergraduates. While participants in the Chancellor’s Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop, which is sponsored by Chancellor Carol Folt and led by Innovate Carolina, these researchers and teachers find themselves in the shoes of the students they instruct: showing up eager to learn, collaborating on group projects and working feverishly toward final presentations.

Mark Schoenfisch likes to quip that his favorite letters are “N” and “O.” That might seem like a surprising preference for a chemistry professor who teaches his students to explore new scientific possibilities and whose own entrepreneurial spirit leads him to develop life-improving inventions.

A unique competition created at UNC-Chapel Hill gives current students a unique learning opportunity and allows alumni to give back in an innovative way – through its Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), which is the largest competition of its kind in the world.

A team of faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Social Work is working to ensure that more children who are removed from their birth homes due to child abuse or neglect can live with their relatives. By winning the 2017 C. Felix Harvey Award to Advance Institutional Priorities, these faculty innovators will receive $75,000 from the University to support their efforts.

When Edwina Koch stepped onto the field in Busch Stadium, she wasn’t planning to throw curve balls, sliders or any other kind of pitch meant to deceive. She wanted her delivery to be precise, well-timed and direct – straight down the middle. In fact, even though she stood preparing to compete in the stadium that’s home to Major League Baseball’s 11-time World Champion Saint Louis Cardinals, throwing a baseball was the last thing on her mind.

Today, the majority of drugs and pharmaceuticals on the market that treat human disease are designed to target a specific protein. But University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill startup Ribometrix has a very different, revolutionary approach to new drug discovery that’s proving to be a breakthrough in the industry.

What started as an entrepreneurial project in 2013 has evolved into an economic force, fulfilling a vision for nurturing new businesses in Chapel Hill and the local community. Over the past five years, Launch Chapel Hill has supported 75 startups and made a lasting impact on the region. And, along the way, it’s proved that Chapel Hill is an ideal place for startups to take root and grow.

An early-stage company at UNC-Chapel Hill is looking to address the global rise in cancer cases with its unique technology. EmpowerRT is a new, social enterprise startup with a mission to help people in developing countries by improving cancer radiation therapy without spending millions of dollars on modern treatment technology.

If you notice improvements in the care you receive during your next visit to the doctor, a technology developed by a company co-founded by UNC-Chapel Hill professor Seth Glickman may be the reason why. Bivarus, a company that developed a survey-based cloud analytics platform to gain insight into patient experiences, has been acquired by Press Ganey, a leading provider of patient experience measurement and performance analytics for healthcare organizations. 

Ever seen a ballerina dance on a table? Or tried to climb Mount Everest inside a library? For those who attended UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) event at Kenan Science Library, the answer is probably yes. These surreal experiences were made possible by augmented and virtual reality technologies, which were showcased at the event and are now available in several libraries across campus. The discussion panel and demo session were part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s participation in GEW, an annual international celebration of entrepreneurship that draws participation from creative thinkers and innovation enthusiasts from 170 countries.

William Sweet knows how to stop people in their tracks. It’s a skill that UNC-Chapel Hill football fans have witnessed the sophomore offensive tackle display on the field. But when visitors filed into Kenan Stadium’s Blue Zone one November night, they saw him do it a whole new way. For the evening, Sweet traded his regular block, grab and tackle moves for different maneuvers: eye contact, a warm smile, a firm handshake and a compelling business pitch.

When UNC-Chapel Hill students want to make a physical object for a class or research project, many quickly look for places around campus where they can go to get started: a design studio, lab or makerspace. But what if they didn’t have to go anywhere? What if Carolina brought a maker environment to students right where they live?

Where better to focus on innovation than the capital city of a country that is an innovation itself. That’s the pervasive spirit behind the ACCelerate Creativity and Innovation Festival in Washington, DC, where UNC faculty, students and staff gathered with the 14 other Atlantic Coast Conference universities to present 48 exhibits at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

If there’s one invention Dr. Nancy Allbritton is hiding from the world, it might be a new kind of clock that gives her more than 24 hours to work each day, while the rest of the world struggles to keep pace. How else does she get it all done? That’s at least what other UNC-Chapel Hill researchers and campus leaders might have been thinking as they gathered to honor Allbritton for her productive portfolio of work, translating lab-born university research ideas into a bevy of successful commercial ventures.