UNC-Chapel Hill startups deliver economic boost to North Carolina communities

The economic value created by startups connected with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is on the rise, according to a biannual report on Carolina’s commercial and social ventures.

The mid-year analysis shows upward trends in how the University’s startup companies and social ventures are growing across North Carolina, creating new jobs that contribute to the changing workforce and bringing revenue to local and global communities. It includes ventures founded by faculty, staff and students during their time at UNC-Chapel Hill or within three years of graduating from or leaving the University.

As of June 2017, data on UNC-affiliated ventures show:

  • A 26 percent increase in the total number of ventures (475 compared to 378) since June 2016, with 75 percent of the total ventures launched (358 of 475 ventures) still active.
  • 85 percent of active ventures (306 of 358 ventures) are headquartered across 16 North Carolina counties, an 8 percent increase from the 283 UNC-affiliated ventures based in North Carolina at this time in 2016.
  • 99 percent of the $10 billion in annual revenue earned by the ventures comes from those headquartered in North Carolina.
  • 63,914 people are employed by these ventures, and 8,090 of these employees are located in North Carolina.

“Faculty, students and alumni of UNC-Chapel Hill are highly successful at not only incubating novel ideas, discoveries and technologies in classrooms, studios and labs, but also taking their innovations to market as commercial startup companies or social ventures,” said Judith Cone, vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development. “Because the large majority of these companies establish themselves in North Carolina, they make a significant economic impact for the state by providing jobs and generating revenue in local communities. At the same time, these companies make a human impact that is global in scale through new advances that include bio-medical therapies for serious diseases, technological breakthroughs and social endeavors that improve the lives of many citizens in North Carolina and beyond.”

The economic impact analysis is conducted by Innovate Carolina, a meta-group of more than 200 university faculty, staff and student leaders who collaborate to create new connections, identify gaps and strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurial environment on and off campus.

A number of Carolina startups made significant advances in 2017, including:

G1 Therapeutics, a clinical-stage oncology company in Research Triangle Park with ties to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, raised approximately $108.6 million in an initial public offering of its stock in May. The company began trading on the NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol “GTHX.”

Impulsonic, a 3D audio company that creates true-to-life sounds in virtual reality experiences and games, was acquired by Valve Corporation, a video game and digital distribution company. Impulsonic was founded by students and researchers from Carolina’s computer science department.

Falcon Therapeutics is advancing a new approach using tumor-homing cells to treat glioblastoma cancer, the most common form of primary brain cancer and also one of the deadliest. The company recently raised $700,000 in a private equity stock offering, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. It was founded by a professor at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

410 Medical has developed a novel medical device rapidly infuses life-saving fluids during medical emergencies involving critically-ill patients. It received an investment from the Carolina Angel Network and is the first company to receive funding from Triangle Venture Alliance, a new investment partnership among angel networks from UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State University, Duke University and NC Central University. The company was co-founded by a physician with a clinical faculty appointment in pediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine.

Seal the Seasons partners with local farmers and uses technology to flash freeze farm-grown produce at the peak of freshness to sell to consumers 12 months a year. The company, founded by a Carolina student, has raised $750,000 in funding and sells produce at a variety of grocery stores, including Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, Fresh Market and Whole Foods.

Through the support of the Innovate Carolina Network, UNC-Chapel Hill startups are positioned for success as they move through their innovation journey. With a mission to create an environment where innovators thrive, Innovate Carolina provides the right resources and connections that startup companies and ventures need to nurture their ideas.