October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

The Research Institution GAP Fund and Accelerator Program Summit

Duke, NCSU, Triangle universities join UNC in adapting startup programs for ‘new normal’ 

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Change is certainly afoot at both Duke University and N.C. State as well as other Triangle institutions as well as at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Here’s a look at what’s happening as well as an infographic breaking down related programs.


“We have added curricular and extracurricular summer programming to engage and enrich students and other members of the Duke community,” said Jon Fjeld, Director, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative.  “The core of entrepreneurial action is identifying problems and solving them, and our team has worked very hard to embody that vision even as they cope with the disruption in their own lives.”

The university reported an increase in student interest in working on their own ventures throughout the summer months, said Sarah Morrison, communications manager at the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative.  The organization is supporting more than 70 students in a summer innovation sprint, said Morrison, and added virtual programming throughout the summer months that includes a speaker series.

The Center of Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI) at The Fuqua School of Business launched a peer-mentorship community, said Morrison, and they will each meet virtually every week throughout the summer.

“After leading a 3-part virtual workshop called Innovating Through Disruption, which helped students identify opportunities and brainstorm solutions,” said Morrison, “CEI awarded a grant to one student participant, Yahya Remtulla, to work full time on his business solving the problem of the sterilization of household durable goods.”  Remtulla will continue to work, with the support of the University, to get the necessary testing and approval to launch, said Morrison.

WRAL TechWire graphic

“Entrepreneurship is about identifying an acute problem and marshaling the necessary resources to solve that problem,” said Jamie Jones, executive director, CEI, at The Fuqua School of Business.  “Entrepreneurs, current students, and beyond, will identify ways of addressing those pain points that will positively impact society and the economy.”


“Small businesses, both startups and existing companies, are imperative to a robust economy,” said Lucera Blount Parker, director of public relations at Shaw University, which is conducting summer courses virtually.  According to Parker, the university continues to provide support and services through its Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and through partnerships with SCORE and Wake Technical Community College, and it plans to launch an entrepreneurship certification program in the fall of 2020.

Shaw, along with Saint Augustine’s University, Meredith College, William Peace University, NC State, and Wake Tech, is a member of the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges, a cross-registration agreement that allows students to take any course at any participating school as if they were taking it at their own institution.

The administrators of the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges program are in discussion about how to proceed with registration and instruction in the fall of 2020, so students can continue to enroll and complete the courses they need to advance their course of study, said Parker.


North Carolina State University is also continuing its efforts to support and bolster its entrepreneurial community while balancing safety precautions due to COVID-19 and the immediate and long-term needs of the community, said Jennifer Capps, director of student learning and faculty development at NC State Entrepreneurship.  “We have and are moving the majority of our interactions to virtual environments,” she said.  “We will continue to support the Andrews Accelerator participants, Miller Fellows and Entrepreneurship Scholars with virtual peer meet-ups, virtual skills training, virtual mentoring, and additional support.”

Students and alumni will also continue to have access to virtual meetings and support from faculty and staff, access to virtual mentoring and coaching from the NC State Entrepreneurship Mentors Network, and virtual training for prototyping in the NC State Entrepreneurship Garage, said Capps.

Replicating in-person environments in virtual space wasn’t possible for all of the university’s programs, as the university canceled the Poole College of Management entrepreneurship summer study program in Australia due to COVID-19 concerns.  And, an annual spring break field trip to Silicon Valley was canceled as well, though organizers did connect via Zoom with many of the individuals and companies with whom they would have met in person.

There were multiple successful pivots to virtual environments, said Tom Miller, senior vice provost for academic outreach and entrepreneurship and the McPherson family distinguished professor at NC State.  The Engineering Entrepreneurs Program, said Miller, “was able to pull off a pivot that could best be described as miraculous.”

According to Miller, the student teams completed their projects virtually, including building hardware and software.  “The quality of the final presentations, which were put together collaboratively by students in remote locations, was amazing,” he noted, sharing that approximately 200 guests attended the final presentations, which were held online.

The university also moved a signature event, the Lulu eGames, to a virtual format, as judging was conducted entirely virtually.  “While it was not quite the same, it was great to be able to reward the hard work of the students and faculty who competed in this year’s event,” said Miller.

In a time of transition, opportunities emerge, said Haley Huie, the director of experiential learning, Entrepreneurship Garage, and Albright Entrepreneurs Village at NC State.  “There’s never been a better time for finding and capitalizing on opportunities from new or shifting markets,” said Huie.  “We know that students are poised to see problems that exist or develop and create solutions for a changing world.”


Source: Duke, NCSU, Triangle universities join UNC in adapting startup programs for ‘new normal’ | WRAL TechWire

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