Launch Chapel Hill is an award-winning company created to help expand business ventures and stimulate economic growth within Chapel Hill and Orange County.
The business venture began in 2013, and is a partnership between the town of Chapel Hill, Orange County and UNC. Launch has helped over 70 businesses within the past four years.
Launch Events and Facilities Manager Stefano Rivera said the goal of the company is to provide the tools needed to decrease risks, reduce go-to-market time and accelerate the growth of start-ups.
“We aim to help build the Chapel Hill ecosystem and to help bring jobs and exciting companies to Orange County,” Rivera said. “These have been our goals since our doors opened.”
The company opened a new location in July that will allow them to take on more teams in their programs, and also lease office space to startups interested in joining the Launch family, which includes UConnection, Seal The Seasons, Quantworks, Academic Benchmarking Consortium and Impulsonic.
“Our plan for the future is to continue to be the hub of entrepreneurship in Chapel Hill and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Orange County,” Rivera said.
Orange County community relations director Todd McGee said the company fulfills the Orange County Commissioners’ goals to promote economic development among small start-up companies. It also helps to develop closer ties with UNC in ways that facilitate the county’s job creation and economic development strategies.
“The Board of County Commissioners is committed to attracting new jobs and employers to the county,” McGee said. “It is hoped Orange County will benefit when these entrepreneurial firms grow and prosper into larger companies.”
The startup accelerator is meant to give people the access to resources to begin their own businesses, said Orange County Board of Commissioner Penny Rich.
“We have brilliant entrepreneurs both in school and graduates with no place to go with their talent in Chapel Hill and Orange County,” she said. “We needed to provide a space for the brilliance to continue.”
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said the joint partnership between the University, the town, and the county help foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
“It’s a very successful program,” Hemminger said. “A lot of spin-offs are created here in our wonderfully creative environment.”
Launch is working to create a collaborative, designated space for new start-ups, Hemminger said.
“We provide a resource to give these companies and ideas the ability to fly,” she said.
Hemminger said UNC is making more spaces available in downtown for these companies to move into.
“Once this community becomes its own ecosystem, it’s going to be just tremendous for all of its partners and the whole community,” she said.
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