Editor’s note: LimeLight is a new feature from WRAL TechWire offering another means of publishing noteworthy news. Be sure to check out more LimeLight worthy news at this link.

CHAPEL HILL – After 11 years of dedicated service and commitment to the University and the state, Judith Cone, vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development, will retire from Carolina in April. Judith told us last year of her plans to retire from Carolina in spring 2021.

Judith has built a talented team, and they will continue to advance the initiatives and programs that she inspired at Carolina. With the strong foundation that she has established, innovation and entrepreneurship will remain a top strategic priority for our University. We are pleased to announce that upon Judith’s departure, Associate Vice Chancellor Michelle Bolas will take on additional duties in innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development to provide continuity of leadership to this vital work. We will soon announce a plan for naming Judith’s successor.

WRAL TechWire LimeLight Logo


Judith has distinguished herself as an invaluable leader, continuously seeking to strengthen an intentional culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus and in our communities. She created Innovate Carolina, a pan-university environment where innovators thrive by developing new ideas to solve the most pressing problems in North Carolina and around the world.

Judith was recruited to Carolina in 2009 as special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship. She also served as interim director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at Kenan-Flagler Business School from late 2013 through early 2015, in addition to her other duties.

Her leadership resulted in the first comprehensive innovation roadmap for Carolina, crafted jointly with the UNC Board of Trustees, senior leaders, alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members. This roadmap set the stage for the adoption of innovation as a key pillar in the University’s strategic framework, The Blueprint for Next, and now its strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good.

One of the goals in the innovation roadmap was to have a strong consistent, yet decentralized, approach to this work on campus. The Innovate Carolina Network meets regularly throughout the year and has more than 300 people who work together toward greater positive impact in North Carolina and globally.

In 2015, Judith was named the University’s first vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development, to bring together several key initiatives, including technology transfer, in a dedicated unit. The new unit included the Office of Technology Commercialization, which Judith has successfully led and bolstered as it works with University inventors to translate research discoveries into commercial products and services that improve lives, strengthen the economy and generate revenue for the University.