Entrepreneurs and investors convened for the Coastal Connection Conference Thursday in Wilmington.
The conference was hosted by UNCW's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), and it spanned across multiple rooms of the Coastline Conference and Event Center in downtown Wilmington.
Jim Roberts, Executive Director of the CIE, was impressed with the turnout at the event and said more than 300 people showed up for the conference.
"The new entrepreneurs they get to pitch their new companies and make everyone in town aware of maybe what's coming next, and that's what today's really all about," Roberts explained.
Roberts said his hope is that the conference will help attract start-up businesses to the Port City.
"If you build a start-up, don't you also want to live at the beach," Roberts questioned. "Right now we have the beach and we're trying to prove we have the infrastructure to grow great companies."
Roberts said the event featured speakers from start-up companies like Face My Age, a facial recognition software business, and Next Glass, a company specializing in a web application that recommends wines and beers based on DNA profiles taken from beverages.
Roberts said his hope is that more successful businesses will soon get their start in Wilmington.
"Hopefully we start attracting back the people that moved away that went to work in Raleigh-Durham for sexier companies. Now we're building those sexier companies that they want to work for," Roberts said.
Hugh Forrest of South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive was the keynote speaker at the event.
The CIE also announced a new partnership with AT&T as well as the company Starfish, Thursday.
The collective revealed the CIE's new Coastal Open Resource App Lab (CORAL) that features more than 20 mobile devices used to test web-based applications on multiple electronic platforms.
Among the devices available for testing are Apple iPhones and iPads. The lab is housed in the CIE headquarters next to UNCW's campus.
"The goal of CIE is to lower the cost of starting a business so you can use that money for paying salaries or other things so if we have the devices that we need then they don't have to go out and buy them, themselves," Roberts explained.
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