Wilmington chosen for statewide intensive learning collaborative initiative

Published: Sep. 4, 2015 at 1:28 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2015 at 1:28 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wilmington and the Coastal Coast have been selected to participate in InnovateNC, an intensive, two-year cross-city learning collaborative.

InnovateNC is a first-in-the-nation effort to spark innovation-centered economic development and is lead by NC State's Institute of Emerging Issues and nine partners.

Asheville, Greensboro, Pembroke and Wilson were also selected to participate. The five communities were chosen from a group of 18 proposals submitted from across the state. With being selected, each city will receive $250,000 to help support the initiative.

The Wilmington team said in its submission it "plans to use InnovateNC as an opportunity to strengthen the region's emerging innovation ecosystem in the marine and life sciences."

"We're excited to work with some outstanding partners to learn and grow a unique economic development focus around marine and life sciences," Mayor Bill Saffo said. "This initiative will help us realize one of the Garner report's major recommendations by making Wilmington and the Carolina Coast a marine and biotech powerhouse."

"UNCW has many assets that we'll be able to leverage through this grant and we're very excited about the opportunities this funding will provide," said Ron Vetter, associate provost for research and dean of UNCW's graduate school. "UNCW's Marine Biotechnology program, faculty, students, research and other facilities can play a vital role in further developing Wilmington's entrepreneurial ecosystem and we are looking forward to strengthening our relationships with partners in Wilmington and the surrounding communities."

According to a news release from Emerging Issues, submissions were evaluated on strength of current efforts, organizational capacity, local partners, and the ability to participate in evaluation efforts.

"All 18 applicant communities had terrific ideas and vision," said IEI director Anita Brown-Graham in a news release.  "The five InnovateNC communities were selected because each has the right mix of assets, is fully committed to collective impact and to making major gains in building and sustaining innovation, and is ready to engage in the collaborative.  IEI and our partners look forward to working with these communities over the next two years."

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