CHAPEL HILL – A new report shows that companies with links as startups to UNC-Chapel Hill employ more than 8,500 people and generate more than $10 billion in revenues.

Based on data gathered in January for the latest update of the biannual Innovate Carolina report, the UNC group says entrepreneurship with UNC ties surged in 2017:

  • The number of ventures grew 25 percent (521 compared to 418) since January 2017
  • 77 percent of the total ventures launched (399 of 521) are still active
  • 84 percent of active ventures (336 of 399) are headquartered across 21 North Carolina counties
  • That’s an 8 percent increase in the number of active UNC-affiliated ventures based in the state year-over-year
  • 94 percent of the $10.6 billion in annual revenue comes from those headquartered in NC
  • 70,225 people are employed by these ventures
  • 8,569 of these employees located in North Carolina

“At UNC-Chapel Hill, we have talented and creative faculty, students and alumni who fuel innovation inside the University and then extend their ingenuity outward to make an economic and human impact across North Carolina and beyond,” said Judith Cone, vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development.

“Scientific discoveries, technological advances and social initiatives that begin on campus mature to become next-generation products and services. These companies and nonprofits connect the academic world to the marketplace. They not only benefit the economy, but also bring live-saving treatments, new medical devices and important inventions to the market where they can improve the lives of more people than would otherwise be possible.”

The report includes data from companies founded by faculty, staff and students during time at UNC-Chapel Hill or within three years of graduating from or leaving the University. h The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development conducted the research on behalf of Innovate Carolina.

Innovate Carolina is an alliance of people and programs focused on working with UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty and alumni interested in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Some 60 of the firms will be featured at the UNC Innovation Showcase, which is set for April 12.


The economic impact analysis is conducted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development on behalf of Innovate Carolina. Innovate Carolina is a cross-campus alliance of people and programs that helps UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty and alumni turn their ideas into innovations.