UNCW announces start of venture capital fund

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University of North Carolina Wilmington officials on Friday announced the creation of a venture capital fund to “support business and economic development” in the Wilmington area.

The proposed fund will be part of the school’s Entrepreneurship Center, which will be renamed the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship when it opens in a new off-campus building this summer, according to a news release.

UNCW chancellor Gary Miller announced the fund to school trustees who met Friday morning.

The Seahawk Fund is intended to provide support money for start-up companies in the area. Answers to requests for information about the fund’s size and timeline were not immediately available Friday afternoon.

The fund will be privately operated, and the university itself will not invest in or have a role in managing it, according to the release.

A university-affiliated entity, instead, “will provide office space and personnel, as well as administrative support and services, including the licensure of certain university intellectual property in exchange for its limited partnership interest in the fund,” the release stated.

“Our community has the potential to be a real catalyst for business development and start-up success,” Miller said in a statement. “We want to help champion those entrepreneurs with the structure and resources that could lead to long-term, sustainable growth, new jobs for our area and the establishment of Wilmington as a hotbed of innovative business development.”

When the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) opens, it will house the venture capital fund, the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the center’s director as well as space for emerging businesses and tech transfer operations, officials said.

“In addition, UNCW faculty and students will use the CIE as an accelerator space for academic and entrepreneurial pursuits. Renovations are underway to support a late-summer move-in for the center’s occupants, and a formal grand opening for the community is expected to take place in the fall,” the release stated.

Earlier this year, UNCW acquired a building for the center at 803 S. College Road, paying nearly $2.2 million. The Entrepreneurship Center had been housed on campus since it started in 2010.

The center’s head position has been empty since earlier this year when interim director Fran Scarlett stepped down. The university expects to appoint a new director “in the near future,” officials said Friday.

Source: http://www.wilmingtonbiz.com/industry_news_details.php?id=5262