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UNCW CIE Case Study

Wilmington, NC
www.uncw.edu

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or, for short, CIE, nurtures high-impact startups and creates a vibrant innovation hub in southeast North Carolina.

Among those engaged are UNCW faculty and staff, UNCW students and alumni, community entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, programmers, scientists, youth, and retirees. The CIE serves as a UNCW-community connector, whether it is for student success or entrepreneurial success. The UNCW CIE is a 2018 ECOSYSTEM and 2021 ECOSYSTEM Grant Recipient.

Submitted by Heather McWhorter
Published October 2023

Founded in 2013, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) has been a driving force in our region’s entrepreneurial landscape. With a mission to cultivate high-impact startups and create a vibrant innovation hub in the southeastern part of the state, the CIE bridges the entrepreneurial needs of the community with our university’s resources. A decade ago, there was no place for students and the local community to share these innovative ideas. Thankfully, UNCW and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce had a vision for what the entrepreneurial ecosystem here could look like. Today, we continue to play a pivotal role in our blue economy and tech initiatives by providing our entrepreneurs with the comprehensive support needed to grow.

                   UNCW CIE’s 10th Anniversary

Throughout my time at the center, NC IDEA has played a pivotal role by believing in our vision. Thanks to their ECOSYSTEM grant in 2021, UNCW’s CIE created a partnership with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) centered around blue tech and the harnessing of marine energy. This partnership between both universities resulted in the creation of new prototypes and business plans to tap into the energy potential of our oceans. By leveraging NC A&T’s technical experience and UNCW’s business expertise, we qualified for and competed in the prestigious 2021 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

           Heather McWhorter and Susan Bales

This competition propelled us onto the national stage and showcased North Carolina’s collegiate talent across the country. These opportunities provide our students with the values of problem-solving, collaboration, and the significance of competition when finding customers. Our students worked in diverse teams and developed solid concepts for business ventures they could pursue on a part-time basis or post-graduation. This partnership with NC IDEA, alongside the innovation-driven collaboration between NC A&T and UNCW, exemplifies the transformative power that entrepreneurship can have within our communities.

Most recently, NC IDEA sponsored the first-ever Ocean Innovation Conference (OIC). With a team of three supported by numerous volunteers, we gathered over 300 problem solvers, thought leaders, and innovators in one place to address issues concerning our oceans and communities. With the tremendous success of the OIE, we will be back in 2024. This gathering raised awareness for ocean preservation in Southeastern North Carolina and on a global scale. The innovative ideas emerging from the OIC will positively impact our oceans.

                   UNCW CIE’s 2023 OIC

As we look ahead, I envision a CIE that continues to provide the necessary resources for our high-impact entrepreneurs. We will continue to leverage our local investors and our thriving tech community. Our long-term goal is to infuse entrepreneurship into the curriculum of the 18,000 students at UNCW, igniting their entrepreneurial spirit through influence and education. While there’s much work ahead, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will continue to support and be a vital resource for our community.

Follow the UNCW CIE: Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, LinkedIn

Wilmington, NC
www.uncw.edu

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or, for short, CIE, nurtures high-impact startups and creates a vibrant innovation hub in southeast North Carolina.

Among those engaged are UNCW faculty and staff, UNCW students and alumni, community entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, programmers, scientists, youth, and retirees. The CIE serves as a UNCW-community connector, whether it is for student success or entrepreneurial success. The UNCW CIE is a 2018 ECOSYSTEM and 2021 ECOSYSTEM Grant Recipient.

Submitted by Heather McWhorter
Published October 2023

Founded in 2013, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) has been a driving force in our region’s entrepreneurial landscape. With a mission to cultivate high-impact startups and create a vibrant innovation hub in the southeastern part of the state, the CIE bridges the entrepreneurial needs of the community with our university’s resources. A decade ago, there was no place for students and the local community to share these innovative ideas. Thankfully, UNCW and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce had a vision for what the entrepreneurial ecosystem here could look like. Today, we continue to play a pivotal role in our blue economy and tech initiatives by providing our entrepreneurs with the comprehensive support needed to grow.

                 UNCW CIE’s 10th Year Anniversary

Throughout my time at the center, NC IDEA has played a pivotal role by believing in our vision. Thanks to their ECOSYSTEM grant in 2021, UNCW’s CIE created a partnership with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) centered around blue tech and the harnessing of marine energy. This partnership between both universities resulted in the creation of new prototypes and business plans to tap into the energy potential of our oceans. By leveraging NC A&T’s technical experience and UNCW’s business expertise, we qualified for and competed in the prestigious 2021 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

          Heather McWhorter and Susan Bales

This competition propelled us onto the national stage and showcased North Carolina’s collegiate talent across the country. These opportunities provide our students with the values of problem-solving, collaboration, and the significance of competition when finding customers. Our students worked in diverse teams and developed solid concepts for business ventures they could pursue on a part-time basis or post-graduation. This partnership with NC IDEA, alongside the innovation-driven collaboration between NC A&T and UNCW, exemplifies the transformative power that entrepreneurship can have within our communities.

Most recently, NC IDEA sponsored the first-ever Ocean Innovation Conference (OIC). With a team of three supported by numerous volunteers, we gathered over 300 problem solvers, thought leaders, and innovators in one place to address issues concerning our oceans and communities. With the tremendous success of the OIE, we will be back in 2024. This gathering raised awareness for ocean preservation in Southeastern North Carolina and on a global scale. The innovative ideas emerging from the OIC will positively impact our oceans.

As we look ahead, I envision a CIE that continues to provide the necessary resources for our high-impact entrepreneurs. We will continue to leverage our local investors and our thriving tech community. Our long-term goal is to infuse entrepreneurship into the curriculum of the 18,000 students at UNCW, igniting their entrepreneurial spirit through influence and education. While there’s much work ahead, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will continue to support and be a vital resource for our community.

                  UNCW CIE’s 2023 OIC                

Follow the UNCW CIE: Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, LinkedIn