UNC Charlotte’s Ventureprise Receives National Recognition for Inclusive Research and Development Innovation Programs

Thursday, January 21, 2021

For Immediate Release          

Contact: lsmailes@uncc.edu

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UNC Charlotte’s Ventureprise Receives National Recognition for Inclusive Research and Development Innovation Programs


Charlotte, NC– January  21, 2021- Ventureprise, UNC Charlotte’s innovation and entrepreneurship center, has been named one of 10 nationally recognized recipients of the U.S. Small Business Administration and National Science and Technology Council’s Lab-to-Market (L2M) Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem Prize Competition. The award recognizes Ventureprise’s programming to address inclusivity, innovation and sustainable growth through research and economic development on UNC Charlotte’s campus and in the Charlotte community.

Launched on September 30, 2020, the L2M prize competition accepted over 160 submissions from applicants across the U.S. Ventureprise was one of the 10 programs to receive the “Visionary” Prize of $25,000. The L2M prize competition recognizes the most impactful organizations, programs and ideas that support the research and development (R&D) innovation ecosystems, particularly those focused on underrepresented communities and pandemic responses.  More information on L2M Competition and Ventureprise submission video can be found here.

Ventureprise had previously launched two NSF I-Corps customer discovery pilot cohorts focused on underrepresented technology founders and on pandemic response technologies. The 12 team cohorts were among the 300+ technology teams to graduate from the Ventureprise Launch program over the last several years.

“We see tremendous untapped opportunity to engage underrepresented community talent with innovation and commercialization opportunities,” said Devin Collins, Interim Executive Director of Ventureprise. “We are launching a number of new inclusive innovation programs designed to connect underrepresented talent with technology and innovation opportunities,” said Collins.

This past fall, Ventureprise was selected as one of 17 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant awardees across North Carolina. NC IDEA required proposals focus on supporting “under-represented” entrepreneurs building scalable businesses; defined as entrepreneurs that identify as female, identify as minority or are located in counties designated as “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” by the N.C. Department of Commerce. “Managing research and commercialization programs can be daunting,” said NC IDEA CEO Thom Ruhe. “To do so with a focus on equity and inclusion is very rare and a big reason why we support this effort,” Ruhe concluded. 

The Ventureprise proposal leveraged pilot programs to-date and partnerships with City Startup Labs and UNC Charlotte’s Office of Research Commercialization and Development to create educational, technical and entrepreneurial inclusive opportunities. With the combination of funds from both awards, “We aim to increase the diversity of participation in innovation programs and in entrepreneurial  leadership positions, and create a technology commercialization education platform for women and underrepresented minority decision makers, advisors and entrepreneurs offering training programs in customer discovery and in the tech transfer and commercialization process,” said Collins.

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About Ventureprise

Ventureprise is UNC Charlotte’s innovation and entrepreneurship center serving the UNC Charlotte campus and Charlotte region. As a National Science Foundation I-Corps Site and recipient of a 2016, 2018 and 2020 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM partner grant and creator of the Charlotte Entrepreneur Growth Report, Ventureprise serves as a center of excellence for evidence based entrepreneurship. By offering three core programs focusing on customer discovery and business model generation, Ventureprise works to provide the resources and expertise to scale university innovations and community based startups. More information at www.entrepreneurship.charlotte.edu