The startup industry is neither blue nor small when it comes to entrepreneurs linked to UNC.

Startups linked to UNC-Chapel Hill continue to surge in number and now are responsible for more than $10 billion a year in revenue while generating thousands of jobs in the state, according to a new study.

The analysis of the economic impact of these new and emerging entrepreneurial companies, some of which have gone public, was conducted by Innovate Carolina, which includes more than 200 university faculty, staff and student leaders .

“Carolina startups and social ventures generate $10 billion in annual revenue toward state and global economies; create more than 8,000 jobs in North Carolina and 63,000 worldwide,” said Brock Pierce, the Program Manager for Innovate Carolina, which is part of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at UNC.

The new report found that as of June 2017:

  • The number of startups surged 26 percent over June 2016 to 475.
  • Of these ventures, 75 percent are still active
  • Some 85 percent of the active ventures are based in North Carolina, up 8 percent to 306
  • These firms are spread across 16 counties
  • Virtually all the $10 billion in revenue (99 percent) comes from NC-based firms
  • 8,090 employees are based in the state
  • Overall, the startups employ nearly 64,000 people

Inside the numbers

According to the report, UNC affiliated firms were broken down into three categories:

  • IP/Technology: 116, with 85 active
  • Assisted: 215, with 161 active
  • Independent: 144, with 112 active

Two large firms, RTI International (with NCSU and Duke also involved in its creation) and Quintiles (co-launched by UNC professor-at-that-time Dr. Dennis Gillings), are on the list.

“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.”

Innovate Carolina works with a variety of startup related efforts and programs, including: 1789 Venture Lab, Launch Chapel Hill, KickStart Venture Services, Technology Commercialization Carolina and CUBE, the social innovation incubator at the UNC Campus Y. Startup investor community relationships include the Carolina Angel Network, Carolina Research Ventures Fund and Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network.

The UNC report is published biannually.

Highlights from the report

From the UNC report, some company highlights:

  • 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.

Source: UNC