On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the Division of Research hosted UNC Charlotte’s annual Research and Business Partners Celebration, an event that acknowledges the collaborative innovation that occurs through the convergence of University and corporate expertise and resources.
In addition to highlighting the year’s research successes and showcasing faculty, alumni and students whose research and entrepreneurial ventures exemplify the University’s growing innovation prominence, the evening’s program, “Unleashing Innovation: The Vital Role of NCInnovation in Shaping Our Future,” spotlighted UNC Charlotte’s new partnership with NCInnovation.
Supported by the North Carolina General Assembly, NCInnovation was established in 2020 to advance a path to commercialization through expedited technology transfer and increased patent and venture capital activity across the state. It is doing so by coordinating efforts statewide to accelerate research and commercialization.
In her keynote address, Michelle Bolas, NCInnovations’ executive vice president and chief innovation officer, stated, “NCInnovation is pleased to be working with Charlotte as one of four university hub partners, and in the Charlotte region as an area seeing rapid emergence and expansion of high-tech industry sectors. This collaborative approach ensures that our research and educational programs will be relevant to the needs and challenges of the industries that drive our economy.”
A big year concludes
At the event, Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber emphasized the year’s research accomplishments, demonstrating the reasons UNC Charlotte is considered an institution on the rise. These include:
- Charlotte ranks among the fastest-growing research universities in the United States for research expenditures and among the top one-third of all U.S. research universities. Specifically, over the past decade, the University’s research expenditures have increased by 123%
- Charlotte rose 41 spots in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report Best College rankings overall and is among the nation’s top 100 public universities
- New and emerging partnerships that are serving as a catalyst for technology commercialization and industry growth with NCInnovation, as well as the North Tryon Tech Hub with The Dubois Center as its anchor; and federal planning grants from the Economic Development Administration’s inaugural Tech Hubs program and the NSF’s Engines program that could lead to funding awards of up to $160 million
“Each of these partnerships has the potential to reshape our region, creating hubs of innovation, and countless new business and job opportunities,” Gaber said. “Our city depends on us to strive for continuous improvement; through these partnerships, we are collaborating to advance our city, and our region.”
Vice Chancellor for Research John Daniels encouraged attendees to “think big” as UNC Charlotte, the city of Charlotte and the region continue to gain momentum.
“There is an emerging recognition — in government, business and nonprofit organizations — that research and innovation provide a critical path to the health of a region in terms of physical health, economic health and cultural vibrancy,” he said. “Such health and vibrancy is not just for great cities and regions that might come from your muscle memory. It is for our great city as well.”
Capping the evening were the presentations of graduate-level research projects by several master’s and doctoral students and the opportunity for guests to meet with them one-to-one.