_Due to a reporting error, this story incorrectly stated the span of time in which the Innovate@Carolina program hopes to reach its fundraising goal. The goal is to raise $125 million by June 30, 2013. This story has been changed to reflect this correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error. _
Five months after its launch, Innovate@Carolina is not quite a fifth of the way to its fundraising goal for the year.
Since its launch in October, the program has raised $23.3 million, about 18.6 percent of its goal of $125 million before June 30, 2013.
But officials for the project, considered by many to be Chancellor Holden Thorp’s key initiative at the University, said they are confident Thorp’s appointment to President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship has created a buzz that will accelerate fundraising efforts.
“The excitement is really starting to happen now, and we knew that it would take a few months. We’re very encouraged that the $125 million will be made,” said Mark Meares, director of corporate and foundation relations in the Office of University Development.
Meares said the book Thorp co-authored, “Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century,” which was published just before the launch of Innovate@Carolina, has also helped spur donations.
Of the $23.3 million raised thus far, more than $5 million has been raised for the minor in entrepreneurship.
“There are about 30 donors who have made gifts ranging from $30 to $2 million dollars, so we’ve had very generous donors,” said Del Helton, director of donor relations for the Arts and Sciences Foundation, which oversees fundraising for the minor.
Most donors to the minor have been alumni and companies or parents who are tied to the University, a trend which Meares said he’s seen campuswide.
Other notable donations from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and New Profit Inc. have totaled more than $1.7 million, funding fellowships for entrepreneurs and playwrights and digitizing UNC Press, Judith Cone, special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship, said.
Most donors to Innovate@Carolina initiatives designate specific areas where the funds are to be allocated, but Meares said donors may choose to give to the general innovation fund.
The majority of funds generated by the initiative result from the efforts of those in charge of specific projects or research, and are not typically federal funds.
“These are private grants,” Meares said. “The rest will come from individual donors, will come from corporate donors and will come from foundations.”
Innovate@Carolina aims to engage students, faculty and staff in answering two central questions: What does it mean to be a major research university in the world today, and what is UNC’s role in addressing global problems?
“Every person and unit has to answer those questions in terms of who they are, where they are and how they fit in the scheme of the University,” Cone said.
The chancellor’s vision for innovation has also influenced the University’s academic plan, which officials will address next week at the Board of Trustees meeting.
“What we want to do is encourage this kind of thinking much more across the University in areas where we haven’t tried to be as innovative as we could,” said Bill Andrews, senior associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
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