Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit

Startup city

Cited often as a leading city for startups, Charlotte is earning a reputation as a magnet for talent in technology, finance, health care, manufacturing and more. With an insider’s view to the Queen City’s explosive growth, UNC Charlotte recognizes its opportunity to support our region’s continued progress and outstanding economic potential.

Through our Research and Economic Development enterprise, UNC Charlotte provides emerging entrepreneurs access to resources essential for converting their ideas to commercial realities. Designated a National Science Foundation (NSF) Ventureprise I-Corps site in 2015, and an NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM  partner in 2016, the University serves as a touchpoint for programs and funding opportunities for early-stage product research, customer discovery and eventual technology transfer and commercialization. In fact, our Ventureprise group is a new recipient of a Visionary prize from the U.S. Small Business Administration and Science & Technology Council Lab-2-Market Inclusion Innovation Ecosystem Prize Competition.

Abi Olukeye

A great example of a partner taking full advantage of University resources to strategically advance her startup is Abi Olukeye, founder of Charlotte-based Smart Girls HQ. She describes UNC Charlotte as  "the equivalent of an investor" in her venture. 

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

With an opportunity to invest in work space in the PORTAL Building (Partnership, Outreach and Research to Accelerate Learning) on our Millennial Campus, hopeful entrepreneurs harness the power of North Carolina’s urban research university through collaboration with expert faculty, students and other innovators. Access to campus resources such as Atkins Library Area 49 and the Career Center for student intern support, and consultation with Ventureprise, the Office of Research Commercialization and Development and the Small Business and Technology Development Center further drive their work plans.

The successes of UNC Charlotte’s start up entrepreneurs speak for themselves: 145 technology teams and 104 community tech startups from Charlotte and Western North Carolina have participated in Ventureprise Launch NSF I-Corps six-week customer discovery programs, and 11% of University-based teams have advanced to the NSF National I-Corps Program. Equally impressive are our entrepreneurial alumni, who are frequently recognized for their impact on the Charlotte business community, including "startups to watch," "25 under 25 young tech leaders," and for their "world-changing ideas."

Follow us

Stay up-to-date with UNC Charlotte’s support for entrepreneurs and their work:; and follow us on social media: Facebook and Instagram (UNCCVentureprise), and Twitter (@VenturepriseInc).