CHAPEL HILL — For anyone who attended the 2019 UNC-Chapel Hill Innovation Showcase, the message was clear: Innovation and entrepreneurship are thriving at the University and in the Triangle.

The event, hosted by Innovate Carolina, drew around 535 attendees and 50 presenters to pitch and exhibit their businesses, social ventures and research.

For presenters, it was a chance to share their innovations – ranging from social and consumer tech ventures to new health care and life science startups – with investors and entrepreneurial experts. And for investors, local entrepreneurs and others, the event was a way to learn about inventive ideas with potential for economic and human impact.

“The 2019 Innovation Showcase was a milestone year for the event and the entire innovation and entrepreneurship community connected to UNC-Chapel Hill,” said Judith Cone, vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development. ‘

“In its 10th year, not only did the event set records for attendance and the number of presentations and exhibits, we also saw outstanding diversity in the types of ideas that students, faculty, alumni and local business leaders pitched and exhibited. Innovators at Carolina are passionate about pursuing research and social and commercial ventures aimed at solving a wide range of problems. The showcase celebrates their accomplishments and helps them connect with investors and entrepreneurial experts who will work with them to take their ideas even further in making an economic and social impact in North Carolina and globally.”

A few minutes in four industry track rooms yielded insights about exciting new possibilities. Just a few of these included:

  • Next-generation DNA sequencing for cancer genomics.
  • More effective anti-inflammatory therapeutics for cystic fibrosis patients.
  • The first noninvasive, at-home detection test for human papillomavirus virus.
  • A point-of-care, early-detection test for preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition in pregnant women.
  • A venture that makes computer science accessible to students in low-income communities.
  • Farming and using seaweed for eco-friendly plastic substitutes.

Rashaad Galloway and Dezbee McDaniel. Credit: Sarah Daniels.

Angelina Patel.

The event also featured the final round of the Carolina Challenge Makeathon, a campus-wide maker competition.  The competition began in February with a week-long event that included 37 student teams developing physical and digital prototypes. The top three teams made their final pitches during the showcase.

SP0T, a company developing an app that provides users with customizable maps of top-rated places and secret spots shared between friends and people in community, emerged as the winner and recipient of a $1,000 prize.