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    Advancing Entrepreneurship

    EQUITABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT​

    NC IDEA empowers North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential by offering support when and where they need it most.
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    Economic Impact

    A CATALYST FOR POSITIVE CHANGE

    NC IDEA is committed to providing opportunity for all entrepreneurs which is vital to North Carolina's economic prosperity.
  • Home

    Celebrating Entrepreneurship

    2022 ECOSYSTEM SUMMIT

    Join NC IDEA in Winston-Salem on November 14-15, 2022 as we collectively work to make North Carolina the best state in the nation for inclusive entrepreneurial economic development. 
  • Home

    Advancing
    Entrepreneurship

    EQUITABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT​

    NC IDEA empowers North Carolinians
    to achieve their entrepreneurial potential
    by offering support when
    and where they need it most.
  • Home

    Economic
    Impact

    A CATALYST FOR POSITIVE CHANGE

    NC IDEA is committed to
    providing opportunity for all entrepreneurs
    which is vital to North Carolina's
    economic prosperity.
  • Home

    Celebrating
    Entrepreneurship

    2022 ECOSYSTEM SUMMIT

    Join NC IDEA in Winston-Salem
    this November as we collectively work to make NC the best state
    in the nation for inclusive entrepreneurial economic development. 

OUR HISTORY

Follow our progression to empower North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential.
 

ENGAGING COMMUNITIES

NC IDEA ENGAGE supports individuals and organizations to facilitate activity that brings like-minded folks together.

2022 SUMMIT

Join us in Winston-Salem on Nov. 14-15 as we showcase the growth of NC’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES: Seeking undergraduate and graduate students to support our work and engage directly with NC startups.

NC IDEA Footprint

Since 2006, NC IDEA has awarded more than $14.7 million in grants to companies and partners throughout the state. Discover the grant activity in specific areas of North Carolina by selecting a region below.

The Western NC/Mountains region consists of 26 counties and is home to the highest mountains in the Eastern United States, with 125 peaks rising to over 5,000 feet in elevation. Centrally located, Asheville is the area’s largest city and the most prominent commercial hub. Although tourism is a major part of the region’s economy, the startup scene is supported by a growing network of partners, and the area has received a number of national accolades in recent years ranking it high as one of the best places to start a business.

The Charlotte/Central Piedmont region and its 7 counties is a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Although the city of Charlotte is touted as the second largest banking center in the United States, the city and surrounding area has become a growing hub for entrepreneurs. The thriving startup and tech communities are supported by an extensive network of incubators, accelerators and other entrepreneurial support organizations.

The Piedmont Triad Region is home to 12 counties and is anchored by three main cities; Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point. The region is long known as one of the primary manufacturing and transportation hubs of the Southeastern United States with a significant focus on the textile, tobacco and furniture industries. Today the region boasts a growing innovation community supporting both life science and information technology research and development.

The Research Triangle region consists of 8 counties and is one of the country’s most prominent high-tech research and development centers. Frequently landing in one of the top spots as the best place to start and grow a company by numerous sites and publications, the region boasts a thriving economy with vibrant rural and urban communities. The area is anchored by three major research universities, 9 colleges and 8 nationally renowned community colleges generating a highly-educated population. In the first several years of NC IDEA, most grant activity occurred in this region.

The Sandhills region and its 13 mostly rural counties are centrally situated in the state. Innovative companies and supporting partners in the region have received grant awards in more recent cycles as technology has become a fast-growing segment of the economy. The area is home to the nation’s largest Army installation (Fort Bragg) with a large workforce serving the healthcare, advanced manufacturing and tourism industries. 

Over 70% of the 24 counties comprising Eastern NC are designated as economically distressed based on employment, median household income, population and per capita property value. The growing community of entrepreneurs in the region is supported by a collaborative network of partners encouraging economic activity and catalyzing job creation through innovative services making this an attractive area for recent grant activity.

The Wilmington/Coastal NC region of the state consists of 10 counties that have seen a significant increase in entrepreneurial activity in recent years. With a solid technology base and a thriving infrastructure of accelerators and incubators helping entrepreneurs advance their companies, the region has earned national recognition regarding entrepreneurial activity. The area supports a wide variety of industries from mobile apps to SAAS, and medical devices to biotechnology to consumer products and more.

Since 2006, NC IDEA has awarded more than $14.7 million in grants to companies and partners throughout the state. Discover the grant activity in specific areas of North Carolina by selecting a region below.

The Western NC/Mountains region consists of 26 counties and is home to the highest mountains in the Eastern United States, with 125 peaks rising to over 5,000 feet in elevation. Centrally located, Asheville is the area’s largest city and the most prominent commercial hub. Although tourism is a major part of the region’s economy, the startup scene is supported by a growing network of partners, and the area has received a number of national accolades in recent years ranking it high as one of the best places to start a business.

The Charlotte/Central Piedmont region and its 7 counties is a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Although the city of Charlotte is touted as the second largest banking center in the United States, the city and surrounding area has become a growing hub for entrepreneurs. The thriving startup and tech communities are supported by an extensive network of incubators, accelerators and other entrepreneurial support organizations.

The Piedmont Triad Region is home to 12 counties and is anchored by three main cities; Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point. The region is long known as one of the primary manufacturing and transportation hubs of the Southeastern United States with a significant focus on the textile, tobacco and furniture industries. Today the region boasts a growing innovation community supporting both life science and information technology research and development.

The Research Triangle region consists of 8 counties and is one of the country’s most prominent high-tech research and development centers. Frequently landing in one of the top spots as the best place to start and grow a company by numerous sites and publications, the region boasts a thriving economy with vibrant rural and urban communities. The area is anchored by three major research universities, 9 colleges and 8 nationally renowned community colleges generating a highly-educated population. In the first several years of NC IDEA, most grant activity occurred in this region.

The Sandhills region and its 13 mostly rural counties are centrally situated in the state. Innovative companies and supporting partners in the region have received grant awards in more recent cycles as technology has become a fast-growing segment of the economy. The area is home to the nation’s largest Army installation (Fort Bragg) with a large workforce serving the healthcare, advanced manufacturing and tourism industries. 

Over 70% of the 24 counties comprising Eastern NC are designated as economically distressed based on employment, median household income, population and per capita property value. The growing community of entrepreneurs in the region is supported by a collaborative network of partners encouraging economic activity and catalyzing job creation through innovative services making this an attractive area for recent grant activity.

The Wilmington/Coastal NC region of the state consists of 10 counties that have seen a significant increase in entrepreneurial activity in recent years. With a solid technology base and a thriving infrastructure of accelerators and incubators helping entrepreneurs advance their companies, the region has earned national recognition regarding entrepreneurial activity. The area supports a wide variety of industries from mobile apps to SAAS, and medical devices to biotechnology to consumer products and more.

Statewide Distribution of Grants by Region

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FOCUS ON DIVERSITY

NC BLACK
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
COUNCIL

Elevating Black Entrepreneurship in North Carolina

The North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC) leads NC IDEA in its programmatic and grant making ambitions to address the challenges of Black entrepreneurship in North Carolina. The Council works closely with the Foundation to identify, recommend and support partners, grant recipients and programs to serve the entrepreneurial aspirations and economic potential of North Carolina’s Black community.

FOCUS ON DIVERSITY

NC BLACK
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
COUNCIL

Elevating Black Entrepreneurship in North Carolina

The North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC) leads NC IDEA in its programmatic and grant making ambitions to address the challenges of Black entrepreneurship in North Carolina. The Council works closely with the Foundation to identify, recommend and support partners, grant recipients and programs to serve the entrepreneurial aspirations and economic potential of North Carolina’s Black community.

FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Helping Entrepreneurs When They Need It Most

PROGRAMS

Our LABS program helps entrepreneurs take their first steps toward building a successful company through a guided approach to customer discovery.

GRANTS

Our MICRO and SEED grants are typically the initial source of outside capital for young, growth-oriented companies looking to advance their business.

RESOURCES

Beyond funding, we look to provide value to all entrepreneurs by sharing resources needed to build, launch and scale a successful business.

FOR THE ECOSYSTEM

Strengthening Economic Opportunity for All Communities

GRANTS

Our ENGAGE and ECOSYSTEM grants support statewide entrepreneurial activity and strengthen the infrastructure for North Carolina’s entrepreneurs.

PARTNERS

By working together with our network of statewide partners, we achieve our shared goals of advancing entrepreneurship in the state of North Carolina.

EVENTS

Entrepreneurship advocates come together to collaborate and address what is needed to support all entrepreneurs, creating a shared vision of making North Carolina the best place to start and grow a business.

CASE STUDIES
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