Coastal Entrepreneur Awards Commemorate 10 Years with Special Recognitions

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Over the past nine years, the Coastal Entrepreneur Awards have honored the businesses and individuals who comprise and contribute to the ever-growing entrepreneurial community in southeastern North Carolina.

On May 23, the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Greater Wilmington Business Journal hosted an awards dinner to announce the “Top Ten for Ten" organizations among the 90 previous winners who have contributed most to the entrepreneurial progress of the Cape Fear Region.

The “Top Ten for Ten” and their categories are:

  1. Biotechnology: Quality Chemical Laboratories
  2. Distribution: Arc Transit
  3. Energy: Cavanaugh and Associates
  4. Health Care: DocsInk
  5. Internet-Related Business: Untappd
  6. Manufacturing: Manufacturing Methods 
  7. Nonprofit: Kids Making It
  8. Professional Services: n2 Publishing  
  9. Retail and Hospitality: Bitty and Beau’s Coffee
  10. Technology: Lapetus Solutions, Inc.

Many of the businesses honored over the years are affiliated with UNCW and/or the CIE, and the awards celebrate a longstanding relationship with the GWBJ that applauds the entrepreneurial spirit.

For Karl Ricanek Jr., professor of computer science at UNCW and co-founder/chief data scientist at Lapetus, the road to this award started in 2003 when he arrived at the university.

“UNCW has been a constant in supporting my research and providing the opportunity to translate this work into a commercial solution that has totally disrupted the life insurance industry,” he said. “Lapetus is now operational on four continents and is poised to have a major impact across the globe.”

Connecting UNCW’s knowledge and resources with the public and private sector to contribute to the economic growth of the region, while embracing innovation and a global mindset, are priorities as outlined in UNCW’s Strategic Plan.

“Dr. Ricanek epitomizes UNCW’s commitment to innovation, scholarship and service,” said UNCW College of Arts and Sciences Dean Aswani Volety. “It is remarkable that in addition to teaching and mentoring students, he has co-founded a business that uses his research to provide tools and solutions to a variety of industries.”

At the dinner, James "Chip" Mahan, founder and CEO of Live Oak Bank, delivered the keynote address and was honored as the Entrepreneur of the Decade. In 2017, Mahan was honored by the UNCW Alumni Association as the Distinguished Citizen of the Year.

--Caroline Cropp