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Innovate@Carolina celebrates 1-year anniversary, looks to future

A year after its introduction to UNC, Innovate@Carolina is starting to take shape in new programs and expansions.

A seminar Thursday night hosted by Judith Cone, special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship, introduced more than 100 students and community members to the program and what it has to offer.

Innovate@Carolina — a $125 million initiative introduced by Chancellor Holden Thorp last year — funds and promotes projects that improve commerce, science, society or the arts inside the University.

“The problems facing our world today are complex issues that need interdisciplinary solutions,” Cone said. “UNC needs to develop these skills.”

Cone promoted a few new projects being worked on this year, including expanding the initiative’s trademark minor in entrepreneurship.

The group is also working on creating a second headquarters at the Campus Y, which would complement the existing one in Hanes Hall, Cone said.

She said these headquarters work as a meeting place — or an idea incubator — for people interested in interdisciplinary idea generation.

She added that they are also adding a new course in the entrepreneurship minor that would be open to a wider range of students.

Cone named another expansion, Carolina KickStart, as an example of a program that integrates resources that help startup organizations on campus.

Hudson Vincent, chairman of the chancellor’s student innovation team, said he is currently using money from the Innovate@Carolina funds to form a new group.

“A new program is Carolina Creates, an umbrella organization that would include musical and global initiatives,” Vincent said.

Andrew Satterlee, a first-year graduate student in biomedical engineering, said he attended the event for networking opportunities.

“I wanted to make sure I got connected as soon as I got here,” Satterlee said. “Who you know is just as important as what you know.”

UNC alumnus Sanjoy Mahanty said he came to the seminar to see what the organization has to offer in terms of innovation in technology.

Mahanty, who works at a bioscience firm in Raleigh, said he has worked with some of the alumni leaders of Innovate@Carolina and wanted to see if he could get involved.

Innovate@Carolina is not a program unique to UNC. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University have similar programs that UNC has been involved with, Cone said.

“Our campus is a very diffused organizational structure,” Cone said. “So we can’t just focus on one thing.”

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