A gift from alumnus Robert “Chip” F. Andrews III and his wife Lyn will establish a North Carolina State University fund to provide support for budding student entrepreneurs.The $1 million commitment will create the NC State Acceleration Fund, which will award grants annually to student startup companies.

Juniors, seniors and graduate students, as well as recent graduates, from any curriculum at NC State are eligible to apply. For this first year, a committee will interview five finalists and award one or more grants; a total of $50,000 will be distributed. The first grant recipients will be announced later this spring.

In addition to the funding, a critical component of the new effort will be a three-month “boot camp” that grant recipients must complete. Through this Andrews Launch Accelerator program, students will receive educational and coaching support from successful local entrepreneurs; some pro bono legal, accounting and talent acquisition services; and office space.

It’s about giving back

Chip Andrews, who earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from NC State in 1966 and is a current member of the university’s Board of Trustees, said the gift is designed to encourage young people and spur economic development. Andrews is the retired former chairman and CEO of FMI Corporation, and current managing member of Andrews Ventures LLC, which manages real estate and venture capital investments.

“There are many deserving students who have really great ideas and don’t know how to implement them or don’t have the opportunity. Those of us who have had some success may have a lot to offer and share as investors and mentors,” he said. “That’s all about giving back – the desire to give back to NC State and to the next generation of students. That certainly matters a great deal to me.

“Then there’s the state of North Carolina. North Carolina is in a highly competitive situation with other states, in terms of starting new businesses and growing economic opportunity and jobs.”

The grants program will be administered through the fast-growing NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic based in the Poole College of Management. Interested NC State start-up companies can learn more about how to apply for grant funding on the Entrepreneurship Clinic’s website.