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A co-working space in the business block of Franklin Street that strives to spark creativity and community among business leaders opened in September.
Innovate Carolina Junction, sponsored by UNC’s department for innovation and entrepreneurship, Innovate Carolina, allows founders, social entrepreneurs and students to join workshops, attend events, network and become mentors to other leaders.
“Our goal is to attract and retain the best students and faculty — and help them turn their research and knowledge into products, services and companies that serve the public good,” said Sheryl Waddell, director of Innovate Carolina’s Innovation Hubs. “Research and ideas don’t do anyone any good if they stay locked up in classrooms and labs.”
The junction is a part of a bigger innovation district, which will begin taking form on Franklin Street. Some of the plans include a life science center with 238,000 square feet of wet-lab facilities, which are specially engineered facilities that handle chemicals, tissue cultures and other biological materials; offices for scientific and biotech companies and a life science lab.
“The Innovate Carolina Junction will be a central hub of our entire network of innovators and entrepreneurs to come together to solve problems,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an email to the University. “The goal is to amplify impact by translating our research into new therapies, treatments, devices or other commercial products, by creating new jobs started by our faculty, students and staff, and by serving the public good.”
J.B. Buxton, president of Durham Technical Community College, announced a partnership with Carolina and Innovate Carolina to open an office at the junction where staff can focus on professional development, offer corporate services and work-based education and training programs. Waddell said the Durham Tech team will also offer students apprenticeships and internships.
“While the idea for the junction has been in the works for a decade, we signed the lease and officially kicked off construction in September of 2022, and we are excited to officially open almost one year later,” Waddell said. “Designing and creating the space was made possible with contribution by many diverse, local groups.”
The Junction is located on 137 E. Franklin St., and has access on the north side at 136 E. Rosemary St. It occupies the ground and first floors of the seven-story building. The space was once home to N.C. National Bank and the Flower Ladies.
To take a tour of the space and learn more about the Innovate Carolina Junction visit their website.