Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

News from the CIE

What is Blockchain?

By Nikki Kroushl on May 9th, 2018

"I heard someone make the comparison that blockchain in 2018 is like the Internet was in 1993," explains CIE Manager of Programs and Operations, Laura Brogdon-Primavera. "Nobody's an expert yet, and anybody who claims to be is lying. We really have no idea what it could be used for, but there's a ton of possibility."

Read more here!

CIE CONNECTION, April 17, 2018

Check out the CIE's brand new monthly newsletter, live on the site here!

Friday Feature: Aidan Shepard, Candy Compass, and a Startup-Launching Sweet Tooth

By Nikki Kroushl on April 6, 2018

"I've always liked candy," Aidan Shepard says, uttering the understatement of the week. Almost three years ago, he founded Candy Compass, a subscription box for candy from different countries around the world. He's also seventeen.

CIE Releases New Logo

by Nikki Kroushl on April 5, 2018

After five years of using the standard UNCW "house" logo, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is proud to release a new image that better reflects its independent, entrepreneurial brand.

CIE CONNECTION, April 4, 2018

Check out the CIE's brand new monthly newsletter, live on the site here!

Friday Feature: Cameron Meredith and the New Fashion Industry Model(s)

By Nikki Kroushl on March 16, 2018

Last time the CIE featured Cameron Meredith was in October 2016, just a handful of months after he launched ReMarkable, a marker recycling startup, and Meredith Media Group, a collection of models, photographers, hair and makeup stylists, and designers unique for its all-in-one approach.

CIE CONNECTION, March 15, 2018

Check out the CIE's brand new monthly newsletter, live on the site here!

CIE Manager of Programs and Operations, Laura Brogdon-Primavera, wins the UNCW Staff Award for Excellence in Engagement

by Nikki Kroushl on March 14, 2018

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's Manager of Programs and Operations, Laura Brogdon-Primavera, won the UNCW Staff Award for Excellence in Engagement last Friday, March 9.

Presented by the UNCW Office of Community Engagement, the award recognizes a UNCW staff member who has partnered with the community of Wilmington for engaged and applied learning, scholarship, and community service. The award recipient makes significant contributions to the university's culture of engagement and strengthens its connections and partnerships with regional communities. It also recognizes outstanding collaborative work which creates partnerships and positively impacts the local community.

CIE CONNECTION, February 23, 2018

Check out the CIE's brand new monthly newsletter, live on the site here!

Friday Feature: Ed Hall, Healthy Pets, and the World’s First Smart Pet Bed

by Nikki Kroushl on February 9, 2018

Entrepreneurship is about solving a problem—about easing your customer's pain. Petrics, the pet healthcare company making IoT products and making waves in small business news lately, does it by making life easier for pet owners and healthier for pets. For its founder, Ed Hall, the path to startup stardom began with his mother. With three cats and a dog, Hall's mother found it impossible to keep track of which pets needed which foods in what amounts.


Check out the CIE's brand new monthly newsletter, live on the site here!

Friday Feature: David Morrison Coaches Nonprofits from Formation to Foundation

by Nikki Kroushl on December 15, 2017

When he completed his bachelor’s degree in English at UNCW, David Morrison wanted to become a journalist. But in the years since, he’s instead found himself helping fledgling nonprofits, and now he’s founding his own business—DF Morrison Consulting.

Easy Conversation and EasyVote: CIE Connects Local Election Software Startup with Industry Veteran

by Nikki Kroushl on November 17, 2017

On Monday, October 30, the CIE’s Ocean Conference Room hosted yet another meeting. This one was a little different: Charles Davis of EasyVote Solutions, a Wilmington startup and one-time CIE tenant, met with Conny McCormack—a former top election official for San Diego, Dallas, and L.A. (L.A. is the largest county in the U.S., with over 5 million registered voters.)

CIE Director Diane Durance wins Wilma Women to Watch Award

by Nikki Kroushl on October 27, 2017

On October 13th, our very own Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Diane Durance, won a 2017 Wilma Women to Watch award in the Nonprofits category. With a reported attendance of over 450, the Women to Watch reception took place at the Hilton in downtown Wilmington.

The CIE at Cucalorus CONNECT

by Nikki Kroushl on October 27, 2017

Cucalorus Festival, one of the most celebrated film and arts events in Wilmington for two decades, makes its 23rd return Nov. 8-12 in an epic five-day conference. Cucalorus CONNECT arrives for its third year in the Port City!

See this article for a full listing of the CIE's panels and affiliates presenting at the conference.

Friday Feature: Janelle Babington and the American Red Lion Disaster Fund

by Nikki Kroushl on October 13, 2017

In the summer of 2015, Janelle Babington had a problem: she couldn’t find an organization to take her money.

That is, she couldn’t easily find a relevant animal welfare organization to donate to after the death of Cecil the Lion.

As a life-long animal lover, Babington became frustrated with the lack of publicity for small animal welfare organizations. So she decided to create One Red Lion, the first and only online fundraising platform for animal welfare nonprofits.

Friday Feature: Firelux Attends the Creative Startups Accelerator

by Nikki Kroushl on August 18, 2017

Firelux (formerly Corey Chandler Productions) is the second of two member startups that were chosen to compete in the Winston-Salem Creative Startups Accelerator.

Firelux began with chemistry.

Cofounder and Executive Producer Meredith Jones explains that she originally hired Assistant Director/Creative Director Mary Margaret Folds for a music video she was producing.

Friday Feature: Interactive Game-Maker Kidobit Attends the Creative Startups Accelerator

by Nikki Kroushl on July 28, 2017

Over the next two weeks, the CIE will be featuring each of the two member startups that were chosen to compete in the Winston-Salem Creative Startups Accelerator.

Eduardo Mora found his love for education—and his love for Wilmington—while studying abroad at UNCW during his undergraduate years, an exchange student from his native Chile. He has returned to Wilmington to pursue a master’s degree in Spanish while teaching undergraduates, and along the way, he’ll be teaching children how to code.

Get in the Car and GO

by Nikki Kroushl on July 13, 2017

Encore Magazine reports on "Get in the Car and Go," a television show from Bits and Peaces Productions. The CIE's Media Team helped create the pilot, "a 20-minute exploration of Wilmington’s hidden gems."

New and Improved Event Space: Video Wall

by Nikki Kroushl on June 23, 2017

During the spring semester, the CIE’s event space underwent some construction. Our biggest change was the installation of a video wall—a multipurpose, eight-screen, touch-enabled tool mounted on the wall at the front of the room, which replaced our ceiling-mounted projector.

Cucalorus Connect at the Coastal Entrepreneurship Awards

by Nikki Kroushl on June 22, 2017

In May, our Manager of Programs and Operations and resident superwoman Laura Brogdon-Primavera accepted the 2017 Coastal Entrepreneurship Award in Film on behalf of Cucalorus CONNECT. In the video below, see her and tekMountain director Sean Ahlum speak about Cucalorus CONNECT and the 10x10 challenge.

Friday Feature: Create, Do, and GROW ILM

by Nikki Kroushl on May 19, 2017


These words sprout from the wall in mossy letters, outlining the mission of GROW ILM, Wilmington’s only downtown coworking space, which opened in late April 2017. They are also a personal mantra for co-owner Adrienne Vendetti Hodges.

CIE Secures Material Design for Bootstrap for Student Innovators

by Nikki Kroushl and Sarah Ritter on April 16, 2017

The CIE and the UNCW Hackathon are proud to announce a new partnership with MDB, Material Design for Bootstrap.

MDB has agreed to provide free professional software licenses to student innovators building websites or web applications at the UNCW CIE or UNCW Hackathon.

Friday Feature: Brilliant Sole, Virtual Reality, and the Trek to the Top

by Nikki Kroushl on April 14, 2017

On Monday, April 3rd, while the Tar Heels took home the win for the NCAA, Brilliant Sole took home the win for NCTM—that is, the first North Carolina Tech Madness hosted by ExitEvent and Adzerk.

5 Apps Every Business Should be Using

by Jessica Kane on April 7, 2017

The advantage of being an entrepreneur today is that technology has made running a business so much easier. There are tons of apps online, many of them free, that can help you improve your business’s efficiency. Here is a list of five apps you should download before you open your doors for business.

Fish 2.0: A Week of Insight and Growth

by Nikki Kroushl March 31, 2017

From March 15th to 17th, 2017, the UNCW Center for Marine Science hosted the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast Shellfish/Crustacean Workshop, an event open to entrepreneurs in the shellfish industry from eleven states in the southeast and Washington, D.C. Most of the event was closed to the public as the entrepreneurs worked intensively to create and polish pitches, learn to communicate effectively about their businesses, and implement advice on how to succeed in the Fish 2.0 main competition.

The CIE at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal Biz Expo

by Nikki Kroushl on March 27, 2017

On Thursday, March 30th, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Greater Wilmington Business Journal hosts the 2017 Biz Expo at the Wilmington Convention Center.
We’ve partnered with GWBJ for many projects, and you can bet that you’ll see us exhibiting in the expo hall and giving some excellent seminars!

The CIEhawks Media Team: Passion and Profession Combined

by Nikki Kroushl on March 3, 2017

Nestled in the back of the CIE’s private offices is one startup that’s not a startup at all—or at least, not anymore. The Media Team began as a tenant company a few years ago, but it slowly transitioned into a branch of the CIE. A passionate film student founded it and now its legacy continues with student staff members from UNCW’s Film Studies and Communication Studies departments.

Student Opportunities at the CIE

by Nikki Kroushl on February 21, 2017

While the CIE often functions independently of UNCW, we love students and we love to see them taking advantage of the accommodations here for them. Most students don’t realize just how many resume-boosting and career-launching opportunities are available on our premises.

The Bunker Labs EPIC Program at the CIE

by Nikki Kroushl on February 17, 2017

Throughout the months of January, February, and early March, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is acting as host to a breakout section of the Raleigh-based Bunker Labs business acceleration program. The program, known as Bunker Labs EPIC—the Entrepreneurial Program for Innovation and Collaboration—is a ten-week course with three-hour sessions that cover the building blocks of business creation.

Instilling a Collaborative Culture into Your Growing Business: The Forté Institute and You

by Nikki Kroushl on February 14, 2017

On February 21st, 2017, the Forté Institute comes to the CIE for the program “Instilling a Collaborative Culture into Your Growing Company.” Chairman and founder Hoop Morgan has spent nearly forty years launching a global company that has garnered the trust of over 6,000 repeat clients—in part using the communication style assessment his company administers to those clients.

“‘Forté’ means ‘one strength,’“ says Hoop Morgan. And finding one’s strength is exactly what the Forté Institute is all about.

Friday Feature: Dr. Debbie Powell and the Revolution of Teaching Writing

by Nikki Kroushl on February 10, 2017

“Ten or fifteen years ago,” Dr. Debbie Powell explains, “I watched undergraduate students who were tutoring children during my methods class. And I wanted them to improve that tutoring by assessing their students very early in the experience.”

This was the beginning of Uni-SPIRE, although the company itself has only existed since 2011.

New Directions for the CIE: Marine Science, Technology, and Media Production

by Nikki Kroushl on February 3, 2017

Since her first day at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in June, director Diane Durance has worked to establish a concrete direction for the CIE in the near and far future: a set of goals to move toward and focus on. As 2017 opens into a new year of possibilities, she discusses that direction—or, more accurately, three directions.

NY EdTech Week—Insights from Dr. Deborah Powell

by Nikki Kroushl on January 31, 2017

While most of us were lying on the couch, binging Netflix and eating cookies in preparation for the holidays, a few of the CIE's driven and ever-enthusiastic education technology entrepreneurs were at the New York EdTech Week conference in—you guessed it—New York City from December 19th to 21st. The CIE partnered with tekMountain to send Dr. Debbie Powell of Uni-SPIRE and Sarah Ritter of Turnip Learning to the conference. Last week, we caught up with Debbie to get some insights from the weekend event.

The Ideal CIE Members and Tenants

by Nikki Kroushl on January 28, 2017

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has a very specific mission—to identify and nurture high-growth, high-impact companies and to accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeastern North Carolina.

There are two main ways that startups and entrepreneurs can utilize the CIE’s resources—through membership and through tenancy.

How to Be an Entrepreneur

by Nikki Kroushl on January 20, 2017

More often than not at the CIE, fresh faces means people repeating a bright-eyed mantra—“I want to be an entrepreneur!”

But as Laura Brogdon-Primavera discusses, it takes more than want to become an entrepreneur. As Manager of Operations for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, she works daily with startups in all stages. And when we asked her how one becomes an entrepreneur, she had plenty of sage advice.

Friday Feature: Mary Jaskowiak and Fecal Finders

by Nikki Kroushl on December 16, 2016

Mary Jaskowiak is a senior in the UNCW Honors College with a major in environmental science and a minor in biology. On November 30th, 2016, she successfully defended her Honors thesis—a method for testing water quality by locating optical brighteners, which are found in laundry detergent and can be used to track human waste that has leaked into natural waters.

But defending her Honors thesis wasn't the first time Jaskowiak presented in front of a crowd.

Friday Feature: Chris Krumm and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization

by Nikki Kroushl on December 2, 2016

“I really fell in love with school, and that's sort of how I got where I am,” says Chris Krumm, Interim Manager of the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, of his meandering track through higher education. After time at Coastal Carolina University, in the army's 82nd Airborne Division, and at Stockton University for education in physical therapy and psychology, he came to UNCW as a student in the Master's of Education Higher Education program.

Pakistani Scholars and International CONNECTions

by Nikki Kroushl on November 22, 2016

All kinds of people from all over end up at the annual Cucalorus Film Festival and its technology/business pre-conference, CONNECT, but on Thursday, November 10th, an entirely unique set of visitors filed out of a showing of the documentary Generation Startup at the CFCC Union Station.

It wasn't just the first time they were in Wilmington—it was the first time they had ever visited the United States.

Women in Entrepreneurship at the CIE

by Nikki Kroushl on November 18, 2016

Last summer, our fantastic CIE Media Team made a short documentary about the experience of some of the women in entrepreneurship at the CIE. They highlight the struggles and the experience of being a woman in the entrepreneurial ecosystem at large.

3 Day Startup Montage

by Nikki Kroushl on November 15, 2016

One month ago, the CIE hosted 3 Day Startup, an intensive workshop session that brings entrepreneurs-in-training from brainstorm to pitch in one weekend. We had 26 participants who formed 6 teams that moved products from ideation to business plan. Take a look at some of what these entrepreneurs did this weekend, courtesy of the CIE Media Team.

The CIE at Cucalorus CONNECT

By Nikki Kroushl on November 4, 2016

The UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship teams up with Cucalorus and tekMountain to launch the second annual Cucalorus CONNECT, a part of the conference that brings together industry experts, entrepreneurs, innovators, and community leaders from across North Carolina to show off what an incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem exists in Wilmington. 

But the CIE isn’t just sponsoring CONNECT—it’s actively participating. 

Friday Feature: Cameron Meredith, Saving the Earth, and Growing a Media Empire

By Nikki Kroushl on October 21, 2016

Cameron Meredith is a veteran and graduate student at UNCW studying International Affairs. A New York native, his CIE and entrepreneurial journey began, as so many others have, when he saw a problem.

Friday Feature: Dr. Jennifer McCall and Products from the Sea

By Nikki Kroushl on October 7, 2016

Dr. Jennifer McCall, a lecturer in UNCW’s Department of Biology and Marine Biology, began her entrepreneurial journey after completing her Ph.D. at UNC Charlotte with UNCW’s Business of Biotechnology postdoctoral program, which allowed her to continue her studies in marine biology as well as earn an MBA from the university. In the postdoctoral program, she worked on “translational” science—the process of “translating” a scientific idea into a marketable product. McCall was developing a project into a shellfish consumption safety test that was quicker and easier-to-use than ones currently on the market, and she applied for a federal Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, grant.

“I started the company [SeaTox], I received the grant, and now we’ve done research and development… and we’re selling the kit through the university,” Dr. McCall said. 

Time Management for Entrepreneurs and Other Wildly Busy People

By Nikki Kroushl on September 30, 2016

At the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we’re all about—you guessed it—innovation and entrepreneurs. In a high-energy startup ecosystem like ours, there is a constant stream of opportunities flowing through. And as people with entrepreneurial spirits, we take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. We work late nights and early mornings. We chug coffee as if it is some magical productivity elixir. And in doing all of these wonderful and amazing things, our messy, busy, fast-paced lives sometimes come crashing down on us all at once. 

Friday Feature: Sarah Ritter and Digital Learning

By Nikki Kroushl on September 23, 2016

Sarah Ritter came to UNCW knowing that she wanted to create a startup. The hardest part was figuring out what, exactly, she wanted to do. 

“Turnip Learning evolved from this idea to make online learning more entertaining and engaging,” Ritter said. “I really like this idea of project-based, applied learning classrooms. I wanted to build a software platform that allows teachers to create and share entertaining content, so that in the classroom time, they can do projects that pair with that.”

UNCW, 3 Day Startup & You

By Nikki Kroushl on September 16, 2016

3 Day Startup is the largest program that the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is putting on this fall—so what is it?

It’s exactly what it sounds like. “A 72-hour learning-by-doing campus workshop that teaches entrepreneurial skills to university students in an extreme hands-on environment.”

What is Social Entrepreneurship? Discovery Forum, Special Pedals, and the Greater Good

By Nikki Kroushl on September 2, 2016

What is social entrepreneurship?

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship describes it as an endeavor that “achieves large scale, systemic, and sustainable social change through a new invention, a different approach, a more rigorous application of known technologies or strategies, or a combination of these.”

Basically, it’s entrepreneurship for the greater good.

Friday Feature: Mack Coyle and Solar Innovation

By Nikki Kroushl on August 26, 2016

This post is one in the CIE’s new biweekly Friday Feature series, which profiles a staff member, tenant, or other affiliate of the CIE.

Mack Coyle’s journey to innovation began with a friend who had a problem: his family couldn’t open a resort in the Virgin Islands because they couldn’t get a business permit to use fresh water. Coyle, who had years of experience with power systems, said, “Well, you could build a self-powered solar water purification system.” The next day, the friend called back and asked if that were really possible. It was—and still is. Coyle, LLC got its start as Coyle Industries Inc. after years of Coyle’s personal obsession with building a portable solar generator. When another friend challenged Coyle to build a machine that could power a wedding by the wedding date, Coyle rose to meet the challenge.

CIE Student Staff Attend “Upsetting the Table” Event in Raleigh, NC

by Caroline Hilla on June 8, 2016

Three of our student staff at the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship traveled together to Raleigh on June 8th to attend the “Upsetting the Table” event featuring Robbie Hardy’s pre-released book coming out on June 13th. Sydney Sides, Paige Blankenship, and myself, enjoyed the networking session followed by a round robin discussion with panelists Robbie Hardy, Margaret Rosenfeld, Amy Smith, and Margot Lester. These four women discussed their experiences as a woman in their respective fields of business, what it takes to get to the top as a woman, and how to disrupt the standing gender roles in business to be successful.

NC Tech4Good Conference Aims to Empower Nonprofit Leaders, Consultants

By David Morrison on June 2, 2016

Last week, UNCW CIE sponsored my attendance at North Carolina Tech 4 Good, hosted at The Solution Center in Durham. The conference allowed me to gain valuable experience in order to further contribute to our non-profit community through the existing mentoring program at the center. Overall, the conference focused on creating an environment where non-profits could gain experience on all things tech. There were many interesting sessions that were hosted, and the two that I enjoyed most were; 30+ Free and Low Cost Tools Every Nonprofit Should Know About with Jeanne Allen, and the Google AdWords Grants for Nonprofits with Rob Ainbinder.

3 Essential Strategies for Small Business App Development

By Nikki Kroushl on May 23, 2016

What can a small business do to create a valuable and engaging app without breaking the bank? On May 18th at the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Senior Technical Architect and mobile app developer William Mansfield answered that question. Mansfield offers a three-pronged approach for small businesses developing apps.

Pivot Launch Reflection

By Sydney Sides on May 16, 2016

Sydney Sides is the CIE's Undergraduate Program Assistant. She recently attended an event hosted at the CIE with tenant, Pivot Launch Coaching. Here is what she had to say about her experience. Please be sure to like and follow Pivot Launch Coaching to keep apprised of their upcoming events.

Bringing First-Class Mobile Apps to Small Communities

By Nikki Kroushl on May 10, 2016

In preparation for his seminar at the CIE on Wed., May 18th, local programmer and mobile app developer William Mansfield talks user engagement, the three most important elements of an app, and how "tricks of the trade" can help small businesses and communities create impressive apps without impressive capital.