University announces Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

To support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus and in the Charlotte region, UNC Charlotte is aligning its educational and outreach efforts through the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The center integrates the work of Ventureprise, the city’s longest-serving entrepreneur support organization, with the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the University’s undergraduate and graduate certificates in entrepreneurship.

“We know that entrepreneurship is critical to the economic growth of a community, and our University is a driving entrepreneurial force in Charlotte,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “Integrating our work strengthens our ability to build the pipeline of entrepreneurs in the metro area, increase the resources available to start-up companies in our community and leverage the expertise of entrepreneurial faculty from across the University to benefit our region.”

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, housed in PORTAL and reporting to the Belk College of Business, will be co-directed by Devin Collins, current director of Ventureprise, and Justin Webb, the Belk Distinguished Professor of Business Innovation.

“While this center will live within Belk College, its focus will continue to be campus- and community-wide,” said Belk College Dean Jennifer Troyer. “Devin and Justin bring unique and complementary skills to their roles as co-directors. Through their combined efforts, we will enhance our curricular and co-curricular offerings for students to engage in entrepreneurship, while building additional opportunities to encourage innovation and use-inspired research for our faculty that results in the commercialization of technologies.”

A 2021 analysis from LendingTree ranked the Charlotte market the No. 3 metro area in the nation to start a business.

The integration of the three areas into the center will be effective January 2023. Collins will continue to lead student experiential activities, technology commercialization and community entrepreneurial support. Webb’s areas of responsibilities will include academic programming and supporting the faculty’s prolific research efforts in entrepreneurship. UNC Charlotte faculty are ranked 10th on Texas Christian University’s 2022 Global University Entrepreneurship Productivity Rankings.