Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carolina Launch Pad seeks campus entrepreneurs

Faculty, staff, and student entrepreneurs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are encouraged to apply for a spot in the Carolina Launch Pad, the pre-commercial technology business accelerator located at RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute).

The application form is now available online at the Carolina Launch Pad website (www.carolinalaunchpad.org) and must be submitted by April 15. Applicants must be active in the UNC community, and university faculty, current students, UNC staff, and alumni who have graduated within the past two years are eligible. The program is geared toward ventures that have not yet secured startup funding.

The program, a partnership involving RENCI, the UNC Chapel Hill Office of Technology Development (OTD) and UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, seeks applicants looking to turn their technical innovations into viable businesses. The Launch Pad is part of a rich and growing ecosystem of entrepreneurial support programs at UNC and in the Chapel Hill community. This year’s program will feature a “Lessons in Entrepreneurship” speaker series, business and technical mentors, topical workshops, and visits to leading IT firms and support organizations in the Triangle. Now in its fourth year, Carolina Launch Pad already boasts a number of successful alumni. Among the program’s successes are:

Keona Health, a company developing a patient decision support system called Insight Engine that gives patients instant, personalized health advice and makes it possible for patients to resolve about 10 percent of their health problems at home. The system was developed by a team from UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Javed Mostafa, director of health informatics at UNC Chapel Hill and a professor in the UNC School of Information and Library Sciences, serves as the company’s chairman and scientific advisor.

Impulsonic, Inc. provides software tools for synthesis and propagation of sound in video games and acoustics. Its proprietary tools are a product of research and development conceived and engineered at UNC Chapel Hill over the past six years and the company has obtained exclusive rights to three patents related to sound technology. The venture is led by Anish Chandak, a Ph.D. student in the computer science department and Dinesh Manocha, Phi Delta Theta/Mason Distinguished Professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rheomics, Inc.develops instruments and analysis systems to measure clotting and rheology and diagnose cancer using small samples. Ricky Spero, one of the company’s founders and a post doctoral associate in the physics and astronomy department, recently received a two-year Innovation Fellowship from Carolina Kickstart, the UNC School of Medicine’s entrepreneur support initiative. The company also includes Richard Superfine, Taylor-Williams Distinguished Professor in the department of physics and astronomy, and Russell Taylor, research professor in computer science with an appointment in the Curriculum on Applied Sciences and Engineering program.

“The idea behind Carolina Launch Pad is simple: give UNC’s technology entrepreneurs a place outside their campus offices or labs where they can concentrate on their business ideas, trade ideas with others who are launching new businesses, and learn from experts at RENCI, the business school and the local business community,” said David Knowles, RENCI’s director of economic development and engagement and manager of the Carolina Launch Pad program.

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