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October 16, 2023 | Tom Ballard

NCInnovation names four regional directors

Their appointment is the latest step in the effort to move the state much higher than #20 on innovation.

There’s a good deal of interest in the Volunteer State about something named NCInnovation, a program launched with $500 million of state backing over the next two years.

Starting with a 2018 initiative named “The Innovation State,” the effort evolved into the nonprofit 501(c)(3) now known as NCInnovation that has raised more than $20 million to build the foundation for North Carolina’s innovation future which enjoys outstanding institutions of higher education. At the same time, the state ranks 20th in innovation.

“NCInnovation intends to fix that,” the organization writes on its website.

Last week, NCInnovation announced the hiring of four Regional Innovation Network Directors who, as their titles imply, will be regionally based and lead the organization’s operations throughout the state.

“This marks the next step in implementing NCInnovation’s model to commercialize university research,” said Bennet Waters, Chief Executive Officer of NCInnovation. “The UNC (University of North Carolina) System is second to none, and our job is to help translate university research into economic output.”

The directors will report to Michelle Bolas, who previously led UNC-Chapel Hill’s research commercialization work. She now serves in the newly created role of Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at NCInnovation. The Regional Innovation Network Directors will implement key tenets of NCInnovation’s research commercialization model by:

  • Connecting industry, capital, and academia to inform university research portfolios and identify commercialization opportunities;
  • Monitoring and understanding university research activities to orient NCInnovation’s grantmaking opportunities; and
  • Collaborating with university leaders to help translate research into economic output.

Separately, WRAL TechWire reported that Jeff Sural, NCInnovation‘s Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, has left the organization.


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