The University of North Carolina Wilmington plans to spin off its Entrepreneurship Center so the center can expand and help support economic development in the area, Chancellor Gary L. Miller said Tuesday.
At a time of tight education budgets, the move allows the center to broaden its reach in identifying and nurturing start-up businesses to also include ideas and innovations from faculty and staff across the university. Currently the center is part of the school's Cameron School of Business.
The center, which was created in 2010, helps connect start-up companies and small businesses to sources of expertise and funding.
The UNCW Entrepreneurship Center LLC – which will operate under the auspices of the UNCW Research Foundation and remain controlled by the university – would receive private funding.
Its reorganization as an LLC, however, restricts the amount of money it can receive from the university, Miller said following a news conference at UNCW's Burney Center.
Center director Jonathan Rowe has been charged with developing an expanded business plan for the center, which was previously operated with university and membership funds, Miller said.
"With the help of donors, he hopes to make the center self-sustaining within the next few years," he said.
Rowe, who will become managing director of the spin-off company said after the news conference that, "Even though the center is a separate LLC, (the reorganization) will enable the center to work with all the faculty on campus."
He said the center "probably would set up a committee of entrepreneurs and investors to vet some of the ideas (from faculty or students) to see whether they have commercial application."
Miller said that the center will assist UNCW "in its innovation and commercialization efforts, such as MARBIONC."
MARBIONC stands for Marine Biotechnology in North Carolina and is a marine science program with a focus on creating a marine biotechnology business economy.
UNCW is building a new $30 million facility to house the MARBIONC program at the school's Center for Marine Science off Masonboro Loop Road.
Wayne Faulkner: 343-2329