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KickStart Venture Services, a department within the UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Technology Commercialization, supports faculty startup formation, business development, and growth by providing coaching and mentoring, early-stage funding, connection with key service providers, management, investors, and space. Over the years, KickStart Venture Services has had an incredible impact on startups.

To contact KVS or come visit, go here.

Click on one of the following topics to learn more!

EducationOpportunity AssessmentCompany LaunchGrowExternal Support


University Entrepreneur Workshop

The University Entrepreneur Workshop is designed to help faculty and students learn the practical aspects starting a company based on university research. Over the course of this two-day workshop, experienced entrepreneurs will mentor attendees on how to evaluate the commercial potential of their technology, define the first steps in starting a company and assemble a startup roadmap for taking the next steps in launching the company.


StartUp-UNC is a series of courses designed to teach, empower and inspire entrepreneurial teams at UNC to launch commercial businesses and social ventures.

Graduate Certificate in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship

The Graduate Certificate in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship is a nine credit hour certificate for graduate students interested in the translation of science and technology into commercial products.

Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership, and Management

The Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Leadership, and Management emphasizes innovation and commercialization as well as workplace leadership and management principles.

Research to Revenue: A Practical Guide to University Startups

Co-authored by former KVS director Don Rose, Research to Revenue provides a comprehensive guide to understanding, starting, and managing university startups.

KickStart News

Subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter that includes company news, investor resources, events, funding opportunities and spotlights on UNC-Chapel Hill technologies that are available for licensing.

View past issues
Issue 1: Sept. 17, 2019
Issue 2: Nov. 19, 2019
Issue 3: Jan. 28, 2020
Issue 4: Mar. 24, 2020
Issue 5: May 26, 2020
Issue 6: July 28, 2020
Issue 7: Sept. 22, 2020
Issue 8: Nov. 17, 2020
Issue 9: Jan. 26, 2021
Issue 10: Mar. 30, 2021
Issue 11: May 18, 2021

Subscribe now
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Opportunity Assessment

Business Case

Before incorporating a startup company, KickStart Venture Services works with faculty, student interns, KVS staff and the OTC Commercialization Manager to  develop a Business Case, which is a case for launching the company. The Business Case examines a number of aspects of the business opportunity: the technology, product, market, customers, intellectual property, etc. Once completed, KVS will coordinate with the founders to hold a Commercial Advisory Panel presentation to outside advisors and UNC commercialization staff.

Business Case Template (Google Doc)

KVS Intern Program

KickStart works with many early stage startups and business opportunities (pre-startups) that need assistance with developing their business case. We are looking for students with previous experience with technology assessment who can jump into a project and provide deliverables to help move the company along. This is a great opportunity to get experience working with extremely innovative faculty and the KickStart Staff.

If interested, please contact Mireya McKee for more information.

Commercial Advisory Panel

The Commercial Advisory Panel is a group of experts with business and releveant domain expertise. We assemble this group to provide feedback on the opportunity. The first meeting is a presentation of the Business Case. Feedback from the first meeting will inform next steps: incorporate the company, gather more information and meet again, or decide no buseinss opportunity exists. Going forward, the CAP will meet again to help guide the development of the startup.

Company Launch

Should I
Start A Company?

Company Name

Website URL

Equity Split


Business Plan



Venture Capital

Board Members

Advisory Board

Business Advisors


Tax ID/Bank


Faculty Consulting

License Agreement


Early Stage Funding

KickStart Commercialization Award

The KickStart Award Program helps early-stage companies meet commercial milestones either on the technical side (prototype development, animal studies) or on the business side (regulatory pathway, freedom to operate).

Requests for proposals (RFAs) are solicited on a quarterly basis from faculty founders. The awards are in the $5,000 to $50,000 range depending the on the company’s needs. Read the Request for Applications document.

The program also provides funding and access to internal and external business experts to assist faculty with the commercial translation of concepts for novel therapeutic small molecules, biologics, diagnostics, devices or digital health. Applicants are enencouraged to reach out to KickStart prior to submission to ensure the funding opportunity objectives and solicitation are aligned. Please email Mireya McKee for more information.


Spinouts / startup companies based on UNC IP and emerging from the innovative work of our faculty often gain substantial early funding through the NIH programs STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) and SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research). Initial Phase 1 grants range from $150,000 to $300,000 per award and are frequently the first funding for these startups. Using outside partner consultants, KVS will help support the following:

  • Registering the company with the appropriate agencies
  • Assisting with the writing of the grant proposal
  • Recruiting experts to review the proposal
  • Submitting the proposal
  • If interested in SBIR/STTR support, please apply here

Once launched, IP-based startups can access a number of programs to help grow their companies.  The goal of providing these company support resources is to better insure that UNC companies have a strong foundation on which to maximize commercial value of our IP.

Please visit STTR/SBIR Grants: Easy Guide for Companies to learn more.

Access to Advisors, Mentors, and Management

Ideally, a company forms with an entrepreneur or skeletal management team. Sometimes, only a handful of advisors are engaged. In situations where there is little engagement by external people, KVS  can provide interim guidance and advice while the company evolves, including assistance with identification, screening and vetting of initial management and key leadership.

Additional Resources

Presentation Services

KVS will provide mentoring and guidance to founding scientists and KVS startup first-time company managers on their presentations to investors, corporate partners and for other key meetings, as well as assistance with building other communication materials and strategies.

Networking and Partnering

KVS, along with its EIR partners, realizes that in order to support the business proposition of startups, assistance may be necessary in learning how and when to reach out to vendors, customers and corporations that may become partners for operational success, validation and/or funding.  Through their combined experiences, and with the assistance of student interns and startup grants to individuals, KVS will support early business development and customer outreach to gain initial traction, essential contracts needed for operations, and feedback on the opportunity and focus of the business plan.

Intellectual Property

Patent filings by UNC/OTC provide protection and allow a company to market a product based on the intellectual property. These filings are often done very early in the product development cycle since disclosure by the inventor as part of publication can jeopardize that protection.

KVS has established a relationship with Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati. They have agreed to provide initial complimentary IP strategy advice as well as deferred fees for select companies. WS@KickStart will hold office hours multiple times per year at the KVS offices. For more information, contact KickStart (Mireya McKee).

Market Landscape Reports

Cindy Reifsnider and Patrick Kastian operate the Innovate Carolina Market Landscape Research Services that provides no-cost services to UNC startups. Cindy and Patrick can help with market research, competitor analysis, and grant/funding opportunity searches. If interested in setting up a consulting session, please contact Cindy or Patrick.

Carolina Express License for Startups

The Carolina Express License (CEL) is a standard license agreement created exclusively for UNC-Chapel Hill startups. It is intended for early stage startup companies that do not have significant investment. The goals of the CEL are to expedite the licensing process and promote startup company formation and development with a fair financial return to the University rather than maximizing financial gain. Please see the links below and contact OTC with any questions.

Incubation at UNC-Chapel Hill

UNC has an ability to offer affiliated startups lab and/or office space within the faculty founder’s facilities through the Facility Use Agreement process. There are strict requirements for this to be available to your company so it is advised to discuss with Mireya McKee if you are interested.

KVS also offers the KickStart Acclerator. Located on the second floor of the Genome Sciences Building (GSB) in the heart of campus, the KickStart Accelerator provides a great home for startups, offering space designed to foster collaboration and encourage innovation. The 7,500-square-foot accelerator offers wet lab and office space, including shared equipment, cubicles, meeting spaces and common areas that support collaborative innovation for UNC-affiliated life science companies.

Please contact Mireya McKee if you would like more information.

External Support

Networking, Mentoring and Advising

Innovate Carolina

Innovate Carolina works to strengthen UNC-Chapel Hill’s innovation network. They help the Carolina community turn novel ideas into practical benefit.

Blackstone Enterpreneurs Network

A dense network of dealmakers who grow high-potential startups into the next-generation of great companies.

Council for Entrepreneurial Development

CED connects entrepreneurial companies with high-value resources to accelerate business growth.

North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Life science thrives in North Carolina because of NCBC’s powerful ecosystem. NCBC has a strong cluster of support companies, a talented workforce and resources in spades. The NCBiotech team has amassed a great list of resources and connections that will help your business continue to grow.

Small Business Technology Development Center

The Technology Commercialization Services team provides one-on-one business counseling and advice to small business owners, university researchers, and entrepreneurs looking to advance their innovations to the marketplace. These innovations typically involve intellectual property that contributes to a strong competitive advantage in the marketplace, and serves as a foundation for the business.


Launch Chapel Hill

Launch Chapel Hill is an international award-winning startup accelerator located in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Around half of all new startups fail in the first 12 months. NC IDEA LABS, formerly Groundwork Labs, helps founders make better decisions, make those decisions faster and take the proper steps to avoid mistakes frequently made by new entrepreneurs. Essentially, we help reduce risk.

BioLabs NC

BioLabs North Carolina is located in a unique biotech coworking facility in downtown Durham, North Carolina. Our aim is to attract the most ambitious startup companies in life sciences. This premium open lab space and office space favors collaboration. The lab is equipped with top-of-the-line research equipment, with additional services to help resident companies reach their milestones faster.

First Flight Venture Center

First Flight Venture Center (FFVC) is a high-science, high-impact incubator located in the heart of Research Triangle Park. Established in 1991 to serve the initial needs of entrepreneurs and early stage science companies. FFVC strives to produce companies that graduate from the facility as financially viable and freestanding businesses.

1789 Venture Lab

1789 is the University’s central hub where entrepreneurship happens for UNC students and grads with an idea for a for-profit, non-profit or social entrepreneurial venture. Our goal at 1789 is to provide space and support for young innovators seeking intentional growth. We are a launch pad into an action-oriented entrepreneurial community focused on creating and scaling great startups.

CUBE Social Innovation Initiative

Located in the Campus Y, UNC’s Center for Social Justice and Social Innovation, CUBE provides social entrepreneurs at Carolina with a number of interconnected benefits: capacity building outside the classroom; elite coaching and mentoring from seasoned entrepreneurs; co-working space; and seed funding for venture development. All of this is managed from a central location at the heart of campus.

The Frontier

RTP’s centrally located spot to plug in, collaborate and plan your next big move. The Frontier is open to anyone with bold ideas and big dreams. The best part? Most of our space is free.


North Carolina Biotechnology Center

The NC Biotechology Center offers several funding programs designed to fill gaps in technology development and company growth. These funds help university researchers and companies conduct critical studies and reach significant development milestones that enable them to attract follow-on funding. Company Funding provides $75,000 to $500,000 to innovative North Carolina life science companies. University Technology Development Funding distributes grants to N.C. universities to advance great innovations with compelling commercial potential.


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund, are one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States.


Most startups fail because they run out of money or they run out of time. NC IDEA SEED offers companies the critical funding they need to scale faster in order to gain customers and attract further investment. NC IDEA SEED provides grant funding to innovative startups, typically between proof of concept and profitability.

Carolina Angel Network (CAN)

The Carolina Angel Network (CAN) brings together the UNC entrepreneurial community and the UNC alumni network to empower the early stage new businesses that drive our future.

Carolina Research Ventures Fund (CRVF)

To ensure that startups and other University-sourced companies have the opportunity to fully develop and deploy technology generated here, UNC-Chapel Hill launched Carolina Research Ventures (CRV). CRV has created an early stage investment fund (the Fund or CRVF) to provide critical discovery and development capital. The goal of the CRVF is to unlock the potential of UNC-Chapel Hill technologies and advance the commercialization of these technologies by providing early-stage capital and industry expertise.

Hatteras Venture Partners

Hatteras Venture Partners is a venture capital firm that builds transformational companies in the areas of biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, healthcare IT, and related opportunities in human medicine.

Pappas Ventures

Pappas Ventures is focused exclusively on investing in the life sciences sector across the United States and Canada. Our entire team works closely with our portfolio companies and investors to deliver superior results for everyone involved.

Recommended Service Providers


Bookkeeping and Accounting

Regulatory Support

Engineering and Design


Website Development

UNC Core Facilities

Funding from Investors and Partners

Many UNC startups have been funded through equity investments. We continue to maintain relationships with these investors. In addition,  KVS has strong relationships with a number of local investors:

In addition, KVS attends and sponsors UNC startups to attend specific conferences/events. Examples are seen below: