Get Started

If you are interested in learning more about InnovateNC and its membership benefits please contact us:

15 + 2 =

You can also contact us directly by emailing

Joining our Next Cohort of Community Innovation Accelerators:

To grow and sustain its capacity building efforts across the state, InnovateNC is launching its next cohort of Regional Innovation Accelerators to work with a select number of regions in the state. These Accelerators will:

Place a full-time two-year Innovation Fellow to serve as a trusted local project manager and facilitator within participating communities in a region (note: depending on how many communities are participating within a region a Fellow may be able to cover more than one community).

Create a cross-sector, diverse Inclusive Innovation Council within each participating community;

Map the local innovation ecosystem within each participating community and gather relevant data input from sources such as a community survey, a benchmarking inclusive competitiveness index, and synopses of local/regional data sources and reports;

Coordinate and align a diverse set of decision-makers and stakeholders at the local and regional level on target outcomes and strategies;

Identify and leverage local assets as well as state/national best practices to create high-impact results;

Invest in high potential, high-impact ventures and initiatives within participating communities to increase economic growth and inclusion;

Evaluate results and scale what is working; and

Connect with a national network of other cities and partners to strengthen the work.

By Fall 2018, InnovateNC strives to select at least two regions and 2-3 participating communities within each region to participate in its next cohort of InnovateNC’s Regional Innovation Accelerators. More details about the Accelerators are in the attached Appendix.

To achieve the full potential of the Accelerators, each partner commits to dedicating time, resources, and collective energy to launch and sustain this effort. These commitments over the next two years are below:


Phase of WorkParticipating CommunitiesInnovateNC
Hiring Inclusive Innovation Fellow (first month)Recruit, approve, provide office, and support Recruit, hire, train, place, and support
Forming a cross-sector Innovation Council (first month)Identify leaders, commit to 18+ months, serve on committees, and contribute to final deliverablesFormation & governance structure, coordination/ facilitation support, national network
Systems Mapping
(months 2-3)
Support data collection, identify local data partners, feedback on Systems Mapping report Leads process with national and local data partner; produces final report
Identify potential investments (months 4-5)Provide planning venues; input on planning & implementation prioritiesLeads design and delivery of process
Investment in Pilots
(month 6 and beyond)
Raise investment funds for pilots & serve on investment review committee; ongoing support for funded pilotsProvide supportive investment funds for pilots & contribute to investment committee; ongoing support for pilots
Scaling of High-Impact Enterprises (ongoing based on progress)
Align municipal policy; contribute to attracting state-wide supportTechnical assistance to align local policy; advocate for state-wide support; connection to national best practice
Story-telling (ongoing)
Local media support; attend national convening to help showcase workShare stories across InnovateNC’s media channels and platforms; showcases case studies at state-wide convenings
Participating in state-wide learning network-Participate in state-wide learning network including annual state-wide convening
-Contribute to learning network by sharing stories, promising practices, and lessons
-Host site visits for other communities’ leaders
Foster shared learning across state-wide learning collaborative including convening communities through an annual conference, site visits, and state-wide learning platform

Target outcomes:

There are three sets of outcomes we strive to achieve in partnership with our member communities: the impact of being a member of the InnovateNC network; the ensuing short-term outcomes (1-3 years) of our capacity building work through our Community Innovation Accelerators; and the medium-term impact of sustained commitment to inclusive innovation and economic development (3-5 years).

Impact of joining the InnovateNC network:

  • Greater coordination and engagement among a diverse, cross-sector group of community stakeholders within the region and partner communities;
  • Increased connection to a state-wide network of leaders striving to accelerate inclusive innovation and economic development in their respective cities; and
  • Enhanced visibility for your community’s work nationally/ state-wide and access to tools, resources, and promising practices to help the work locally.

Short-term impact of the Community Innovation Accelerator (1-3 years):

  • Greater understanding of local assets, community opinion, and base-line data benchmarked against other similar cities;
  • Stronger strategic alignment by community leaders and stakeholders on target outcomes and prioritized actions to achieve outcomes;
  • Improved connectivity of under-connected entrepreneurs and small business owners to resources and relationships contributing to revenue growth and increased employment;
  • Increased public and private procurement commitments for contracting services from locally owned enterprises;
  • Strengthened connection between currently under-connected workforce and emerging employment opportunities – particularly within the innovation economy;
  • Initial improvements to under-developed commercial corridors (i.e. street improvements, retail frontage, site readiness, etc.)
  • Strengthened and aligned municipal policy to city’s inclusive innovation goals; and
  • Increased awareness and support for efforts by the local business community.

Long-term impact of sustained commitment (4+ years):

  • Increased number of locally owned enterprises;
  • Growth in average annual revenue per locally-owned enterprise;
  • Increase in livable wage jobs within currently under-employed communities;
  • Increase in jobs taken by local, currently under-employed workforce;
  • Increase in per-capita income across all demographics; and
  • Revitalized commercial corridors in currently under-connected neighborhoods including increased local business ownership;
  • Growth in home ownership among currently under-represented demographics;
  • Growth in public and private contracts with locally owned businesses; and
  • Increased investment in locally owned enterprises.

Strategies to measure impact:

InnovateNC will work with local and state-wide data partners to establish baseline data across a set of target outcome indicators and measure progress over time. Additionally, InnovateNC will work with national and local data partners to collect survey data to capture additional impact measures such as increase in awareness of and support for local initiatives, behavioral shifts, as well as national connectivity.


Cost of developing and running an Innovation Accelerator within each participating community (recognizing there may be economies of scale and cost savings with a region) per year:

Fellowship salary ($75K) & benefits ($10K)$85,000
Fellowship office expensesPro-bono
Systems mapping & supportive research$65,000
Fellowship oversight, ongoing technical assistance, travel, and logistics$75,000
NOTE: Based on interest among Regional Councils of Government and their respective communities, InnovateNC will work collaboratively with these local communities to find supportive financial resources from public and private resources to match local resources.

To Apply for Consideration:

To express your region’s interest in participating in the next cohort of InnovateNC’s Community Innovation Accelerators, please answer the following questions:

  • In a few short sentences, why is your region interested in participating?
  • What communities in your region would you anticipate participating? And why?
  • Who are the key stakeholders in this community you would anticipate serving on your local cross-sector Innovation Council (see Appendix for guidance)?
  • Is there any other information we should consider as part of your application?

For additional information about InnovateNC and to apply for our next cohort Community Innovation Accelerator, please contact:

Charles Robinson;
(941) 928-5755

Get Updates As They Happen