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Apr 10, 2023

CIE Strategy 2025: Supporting Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Changemakers

Sponsored Content provided by Heather McWhorter - Director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

As we near the ten-year celebration of the ribbon cutting of the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) in September 2023, CIE’s 2023-2025 Strategic Plan for supporting entrepreneurs, partners, and the region has been unveiled and is being implemented. 
Hello, I’m CIE
CIE nurtures emerging ventures and connects entrepreneurs to a world of startup support services and to UNCW knowledge and resources. Whether you’re from the community or UNCW faculty, staff, student, or alumni, CIE helps to accelerate the launch and growth of your business. We want to make Wilmington the place to start and grow a business by leveraging the best of UNCW and the region. 
At CIE we believe:

  1. Entrepreneurship unleashes human potential.
  2. Everyone should have access to succeed through entrepreneurship.
  3. Through entrepreneurship and innovation, community and global problems will be solved.
  4. We are stronger together.
CIE is a distinct academic ecosystem. We attract changemakers and dreamers, the inquisitive and curious, and those who have the mindset to control their destiny. Among those engaged are UNCW faculty and staff, UNCW students, community entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, programmers, scientists, youth, and retirees. CIE serves as a UNCW-community connector, whether it is for student success or entrepreneurial success. 
What we do (CIE Mission): CIE nurtures high-impact startups with education, connections, and incubation and collision space, and accelerates the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeastern North Carolina as a vibrant hub of innovation.
What we strive for (CIE Vision): An inclusive, resilient, and robust regional entrepreneurial ecosystem that hires leadership ready UNCW graduates, partners in UNCW research, and creates solutions for regional and global communities.
Provide mentoring, programs, funding, facilities, and UNCW connections to high-impact startups to support success.
Connect UNCW students with experiential learning experiences to grow their entrepreneurial mindset.
Inspire the next generation of high-impact entrepreneurs, from youth to retirees.
Envision, support, and communicate strategies that recognize and support the power of people starting a scalable business that can make change in their own communities.
Through collaboration, ignite regional strengths to create innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges.
Next steps
As with any good Strategic Planning process, feedback was gathered from a variety of individuals including UNCW, regional entrepreneurs, volunteers, and partners to develop a focused approach. A comprehensive online community survey was also completed in August 2022 with significant feedback that was considered when developing the guideposts through 2025. Also as with any good Strategic Planning process, feedback is always welcome. We will continue to work with entrepreneurs, the community, volunteers, and funding partners to meet entrepreneur and entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to advance individual and community success.
Connect with CIE
To learn more about CIE and our services, programs, and events, follow us on social media: InstagramFacebookTwitterLinkedIn, or YouTube. CIE’s website is Kevin Conner, CIE Operations Manager, and I have been busy working on a new CIE website that will be launched in mid-May. Stay tuned!
Feedback or thoughts? Please comment below or connect with me!
Heather McWhorter, MS, PE, is the director of the UNC Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. CIE is a resource for high-impact start-ups and the early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit

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