Friday, June 22, 2012

Carolina Wants Your Big Ideas!

The Town of Chapel Hill recently authorized a step forward in its plan to develop and retain local talent in downtown Chapel Hill. On May 30, the Town announced its partnership with the University, Orange County, the Downtown Partnership, and 3 Birds Marketing, which relocates the growing firm to a new space on West Franklin and repurposes their current building as a joint use meeting space for local entrepreneurs. As a part of the agreement, 3 Birds Marketing, which employs a number of Carolina graduates (some of whom started as paid interns) will play an advisory role for the accelerator site.

Carolina’s role in the agreement is still being finalized. During a chat with Ted Zoller, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UNC, he described the University’s vision for the accelerator site as “a place where students can test and experiment with start-up ideas and have the opportunity to launch businesses on the University’s doorstep.”

As a result of UNC’s Innovate@Carolina initiative, UNC has developed a rich ecosystem for entrepreneurship with a robust set of courses and programs to support starting new businesses. Carolina offers an undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship as well as an entrepreneurship concentration through UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. UNC also hosts the CarolinaChallenge, a year-long student-led venture competition, and Launching the Venture, a series of courses helping students, faculty, and staff launch social and commercial ventures.

Concerning the accelerator, Ted adds: “Students already have a great experience on campus, where they learn the ropes of building businesses, now we will have a proving ground to test ideas. We envision a program to support students and provide work space where training and action can all come together.”

It appears Carolina may soon have a home for new social and commercial business development, so bring your big ideas!