RALEIGH – The state government faces several key challenges, but here’s a novel idea: Let today’s young minds have a crack at coming up with some solutions.

It’s all part of the newly launched NC Entrepreneur Corps, a work-based learning opportunity for North Carolina’s college students. Over the semester, they will work to crack some of the most pressing issues confronting the state. Among them: recruiting and retaining young tech talent, creating new digital channels for communication and developing a analytics dashboard for citizens.

“[This] is a game changer,” said Michael Goodmon, vice president of Real Estate for Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns WRAL TechWire.

He is also chairman of the Governor Roy Cooper’s North Carolina Entrepreneurship Council, which launched the initiative this week.

“We are seeking to make North Carolina government more entrepreneurial and provide better services for the citizens of this state. That requires engaging students in all 100 counties to bring their best and brightest ideas to the table.”

Until Dec. 31, applications are open for students from both four-year and community colleges. They can apply either individually or as a team of three to five members.

The Entrepreneur Corps will kick off in early February and conclude in mid-April.

Teams must commit to a bi-weekly remote meeting with an advisor from the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and a monthly remote meeting with a mentor from the Governor’s Entrepreneurship Council.

Timelines and workflows for completing a challenge are entirely dictated by the student team, and challenges will be completed remotely.

At the conclusion of the Entrepreneur Corps, students will be invited to present their final projects to a panel of evaluators.

Dr. Tommy Sowers, the Department of Defense’s lead for innovation in the Southeast region who also serves on the Council, said the program is creating “a new model of public service.”

“There are lots of talented students, entrepreneurs and North Carolinians that would like to serve their state, but once you say you need to move to Raleigh, and work inside state government, that eliminates a large percentage of individuals.

“[This] grows the ecosystem and creates more of a virtual ecosystem. We want to make it easier for people to serve their state doing what they do best.”