What is InnovateNC

History & InnovateNC Phase 1

Innovation is the modern economy’s fuel. As the primary source of new technologies, products, services, and practices that yield value, innovation is what creates new industries, makes existing ones globally competitive, and sustains economic growth and improved societal well-being. To ensure our state’s future competitiveness and economic prosperity, we must increase our state’s overall innovation capacity well beyond the Triangle and Charlotte. To encourage innovation capacity growth, the Institute for Emerging Issues and nine other statewide Partners launched the first phase of InnovateNC in 2015, an intensive two-year, cross-city learning collaborative supporting five North Carolina communities — Asheville, Greensboro, Pembroke, Wilson, Wilmington and the Carolina Coast—as they expand their innovation economies.

The goals for InnovateNC were established as follows:

  • Increase innovation capacity, activity and connectivity;
  • Broaden the demographic and sectoral diversity of those engaged in the innovation economy;
  • Increase collaborative cross-city learning and partnerships; and
  • Increase visibility and financial support for innovation district efforts.

While substantial progress has been made in each of the five participating communities, and significant resources have been developed to help communities accelerate their transition to the innovation economy, the work is really just beginning. This includes deepening the work in the original five communities, expanding these efforts to other micropolitan and under-connected metro areas across the state, strengthening opportunities for connection and collaboration between communities, and elevating North Carolina’s overall innovation capacity and effectiveness – particularly in currently under-developed metro and micropolitan/ rural communities.

Success Stories from Phase 1:

Asheville

North Carolina

Asheville is to become a global center of innovation for products and services that accelerate climate resiliency.

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Greensboro

North Carolina

Greensboro (InnovateGSO) has focused their efforts on purposefully engaging under-connected populations to unleash design innovation for economic growth.

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Pembroke

North Carolina

Pembroke believes there is a strategic opportunity to create new jobs and foster new enterprise development while reducing costs and increasing quality of life for the community behind new technologies in sustainability in three key sectors.

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Wilmington/Carolina Coast

North Carolina

Wilmington/Carolina Coast (InnovateSENC) is working to develop a support system to enhance cooperation among the region’s business, educational, government, and economic development organizations and cultivating the ecosystem by promoting the growth of small businesses.

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Wilson

North Carolina

Wilson is better networked to the Internet economy than many of its peers and is therefore positioned to catalyze its growth as a next-economy community– made up of both import-substituting businesses that meet local demand as well as scalable, innovation-based ventures that will increase jobs and investment — all at the speed of gig.

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