Carolina Launch Pad Seeks New Crop of University Entrepreneurs

Carolina Launch Pad, the pre-commercial technology business accelerator located at the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) will soon begin its second year and is seeking a new class of aspiring IT entrepreneurs from the UNC-Chapel Hill community.

Carolina Launch Pad, or Launch Pad for short, targets Carolina faculty, staff and students who want to turn their technological inventions and ideas into viable businesses and have not yet developed their ideas into funded start-ups. The program is a partnership involving RENCI, the UNC Chapel Hill Office of Technology Development (OTD) and UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

The first group of Launch Pad participants moved into office space at RENCI headquarters at 100 Europa Drive in Chapel Hill last December and will wrap up their participation in December 2009. Each of the five year-one Launch Pad ventures occupied office space at RENCI equipped with a desk, laptop computer, phone, Internet access, and storage space.  The entrepreneurs collaborated with RENCI’s world-class technology experts, attended RENCI lectures and events, and received help in developing logos and websites. In addition, professionals with OTD, the business school and from the Triangle IT community offered coaching and mentoring to the entrepreneurs in partnership with UNC’s Launching the Venture program.

Another five teams or individuals looking to start technology-related businesses will be invited to participate in Launch Pad in 2010. Participants must be faculty, staff, students, or recent graduates of UNC Chapel Hill with a technology business idea that has not been commercialized. An application form is available at the Carolina Launch Pad website. All applications must be submitted by October 15.

 “Carolina Launch Pad gave us a place outside the laboratory where we could concentrate on our business idea,” said Cam Patterson, chief of cardiology at the UNC School of Medicine, founding director of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute, and a year-one Launch Pad participant with a venture called Dyzen. “We were able to meet and share ideas with many different technical experts and IT business professionals and to learn how to focus our message to our customers. That’s just not possible when you are in the lab or your campus office.”

New participants in the program will be selected by the Carolina Launch Pad Selection Advisory Committee, which consists of David Knowles, RENCI’s director of economic development and engagement; Ted Zoller, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Kenan-Flagler Business School; Cathy Innes, director of the Office of Technology Development; Timothy L. Quigg, associate chair for administration and finance in the computer science department; and Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org and a faculty member who teaches in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Library and Information Sciences. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance in November.

Carolina Launch Pad is supported by RENCI through funding from the UNC Chapel Hill Office of the Provost.

For more information, see the Carolina Launch Pad website.