The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has raised more than $11 million for a new $125 million fundraising campaign supporting an ambitious plan to bring the power of innovation and entrepreneurship to bear on the world’s biggest problems.
“Innovate @Carolina: Important Ideas for a Better World” is a roadmap developed through nearly a year of deliberations by alumni and friends with extensive experience leading innovation in science, business, medicine, nonprofits and academia. Alumnus Lowry Caudill, co-founder of Magellan Laboratories Inc. and an adjunct faculty member, chaired the Innovation Circle, which also worked with a Faculty Innovation Working Group and Student Innovation Team. The roadmap was previewed today (Sept. 23) for the University’s Board of Trustees and will be officially released on University Day, Oct. 12.
“The innovation roadmap provides a well-researched and conceived strategy for helping our faculty and students produce basic knowledge of the highest quality,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “We want them to have the freedom and encouragement to seek solutions and answers to the most important problems – and then to be empowered to act on their ideas.”
The Innovation Circle made five major recommendations:
- Prepare faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, staff and the broader Carolina community with the knowledge, skills and connections to translate ideas into innovation;
- Collaborate with diverse groups on campus to explore issues, options and creative approaches that may lead to innovations;
- Translate important new ideas into innovations that improve society more expediently and at an increased volume;
- Align people, incentives and processes to strengthen an intentional culture of innovation at Carolina; and
- Catalyze innovation at Carolina by facilitating the work of faculty, staff and students as they put important ideas to use for a better world.
Examples of goals and strategies in the roadmap supporting those recommendations include:
- Build the University’s capacity for innovation, drawing in part on successful existing programs such as a minor in entrepreneurship in the College of Arts and Sciences and a chancellor’s faculty entrepreneurship boot camp.
- Enhance robust interdisciplinary collaboration and advance the applied sciences; establish five new distinguished professorships.
- Collaborate and coordinate activities around key themes of local, national and global significance.
- Expand the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program to put 18 such positions around the campus.
- Recruit innovators and future innovators and reward activities that contribute to the culture of innovation; create two innovation professorships to provide release time to pursue important innovations.
- Establish a Carolina Innovation Fund to support promising innovations.
- Create a user-friendly central online gateway to innovation and a hotline to help the campus community learn more about innovation with easy-to-find engaging opportunities.
Thorp said the roadmap’s recommendations would foster and support a campus culture that remains true to the University’s historic mission even as it invites faculty, staff and students to build upon it with their own visions for making the world a better place.
The roadmap also provides the University with a strong blueprint for success that already has inspired private donors to support the new Innovate@Carolina Campaign, Thorp said. Goals include creating an $88.2 million endowment and providing $36.8 million in expendable funds to help implement the roadmap.
The more than $11 million in pledges and gifts to date represents nearly 10 percent of the $125 million goal, Thorp said. Major commitments include:
- A $2 million pledge from an anonymous donor that will support an existing minor in entrepreneurship in the College of Arts and Sciences. Part of this gift will support a distinguished professorship to recruit a faculty member to teach in the program.
- A $2.25 million commitment from an anonymous donor to create an innovation scholarship endowment fund, as well as $340,000 for the Frederick J. Houk, Jr. Innovation Scholarship Endowment Fund. These gifts will go toward the new Innovation Scholars, a merit-based scholarship that enrolled its first recipient this fall.
- A $2 million gift to establish the C. Felix Harvey Award, which supports innovative faculty projects in the humanities and social sciences that directly serve the people of North Carolina.
- A $268,000 commitment from ChildFund to create an Innovation Laboratory that will develop a framework for healthy and secure infant-through-2-year-olds that can be scaled across ChildFund’s programs for vulnerable children around the world. Based at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, this initiative will build on the innovation labs created by Dennis and Joan Gillings’ $50 million commitment to the Carolina First Campaign.
The campaign runs through mid-2013.
Thorp emphasized that the Innovation Circle and faculty and student groups coordinated their work with the University’s Academic Plan Steering Committee currently leading efforts to develop a new five-year plan to guide campuswide academic priorities.
“We see important synergy between both of these efforts in thinking about the future of the University,” Thorp said. “Careful planning like the roadmap is going to position us well when the economy recovers.”
For additional information about the innovation roadmap, refer to innovate.unc.edu.
Contact: Mike McFarland,
, (919) 962-8593