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WCU one of four NCInnovation UNC System regional hubs, fueling regional and statewide economic growth

meagan coneybeer

Meagan Coneybeer, NCInnovation's western director

By Julia Duvall

While the state of North Carolina is a well-recognized leader in research and development, the output does not measure up to the state’s size.

This is where NCInnovation steps in, to bridge academia and industry, to move inventions to market and create long-term economic benefits for all regions of the state.

This is done by supporting researchers with grant funding, mentorship and partnership development to commercialize applied research breakthroughs and accelerate the transition from the classroom to the production floor.

“NCInnovation is a partnership that has been designed to accelerate commercialized innovation from the University of North Carolina System schools,” said Meagan Coneybeer, NCInnovation’s western director. “We are tech agnostic, which means that we are open to any faculty member here in the western part of the state at our institutions which include WCU, UNC Asheville, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Morganton and Appalachian State.

The organization recently received $500 million in state funding as an endowment to accelerate the commercialization of research at universities. NCInnovation will deploy the interest earned on the endowment to provide grant funding and support services to university researchers. By doing so, NCInnovation will support the growth of new businesses and licensing revenue from commercialized research, helping boost economic development in the region.

The program supports faculty working on industry-led, program-based innovations in partnership with industry or those who are interested in collaborating on large scale regional economic development projects that would be anchored in research, experience and excellence of a university collaboration.

“The partnership between WCU and NCInnovation presents incredible opportunities to promote research-based entrepreneurship, product development and commercialization, and bolsters the likelihood of new job creation in the western portion of the state,” said Rich Price, WCU’s executive director of economic development and regional partnerships. “The investment potential presented by NCInnovation removes so many barriers to university-led product and concept realization and the creation of intellectual property that will fuel economic growth.”

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