UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Wins $50,000 Accelerator Grant from U.S. Small Business Administration

Friday, September 05, 2014

(Wilmington, N.C.) – UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is one of 50 winners of the first Growth Accelerator Fund competition sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The very competitive process awarded grants to fewer than 1% of more than 800 applicants nationally.

The CIE is one of only three grant recipients in North Carolina; the other two are located in Charlotte. The accelerators come from a broad set of industries and sectors, from manufacturing and tech startups to farming as well as a focus on a diversified range of demographic groups, according to the SBA.

“We are very proud of this recognition and validation of a year of really hard work to implement the infrastructure in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Wilmington region,” said CIE Executive Director Jim Roberts.

Marking its one-year anniversary on Sept. 4, the CIE hosted the inaugural Coastal Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference and a new partnership with AT&T to create the Coastal Open Resource App Lab. CORAL, located in the CIE’s co-working space for students, faculty, staff and community members, is equipped with a variety of mobile devices for testing developmental Web-based applications on multiple platforms. It is one of only two open device labs in North Carolina.

The SBI grant will help the CIE move forward with the next stage of its plans to support startups in Southeastern North Carolina.

“We are eager to offer more sophisticated and deeper help to our entrepreneurs with the new open device lab, entrepreneur boot camp, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant help, tech transfer strategies and a partnership with the Maker Space,” Roberts said.  The Maker Space, a downtown Wilmington facility opening later this month, offers inventors and other small business leaders a place to work on projects such as 3-D printing, metal fabrication, woodworking and more.

The Growth Accelerator Fund contest offers the SBA an opportunity to engage with and support organizations whose sole purpose is to help start-ups to grow, become commercially viable and have real and sustained economic impact, the agency said. Winners were selected by a panel of seven judges who are experts in entrepreneurship, investing and business plans both inside and out of the federal government. The SBA will honor the winners at a Fly-In day in Washington, D.C., in November during National Entrepreneurship Month, in partnership with the Global Accelerator Network.

The CIE works to identify and nurture high-growth, high-impact companies and to accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeastern North Carolina. It is located at 803 South College Road, at the south perimeter of the UNCW campus. The CIE houses UNCW’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), technology transfer operations and the Seahawk Innovation Fund. In addition, UNCW faculty and students are able to use the CIE as an accelerator space for academic and entrepreneurial pursuits. For more information, please visit or follow the CIE on Twitter.