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National Innovation Forum to Be Held at UNC

Leading innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs who make up President Barack Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship has chosen UNC for the site of the group’s first public forum, set for March 15.

The 24-member council, which includes Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86, was created last year to support Obama’s innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identifying ways to take ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and create jobs. The council, which began meeting in September, serves as a vehicle for ongoing dialogue with the entrepreneurship community and other stakeholders.

“It’s a great honor for Carolina to be asked to host the council’s first public forum and regional meeting outside Washington,” Thorp said. “This is an excellent opportunity for people who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship to observe and participate in discussions that will help shape our council’s recommendations on national policy.”

Council members include giants in the worlds of business, higher education, philanthropy, technology and venture capital. Confirmed attendees to date for the Chapel Hill forum include:

  • Steve Case, co-founder of America Online and founder of the Case Foundation;
  • Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, chairman of Sparta Group LLC and founder of the Deshpande Foundation and the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • Mary Sue Coleman ’69, president of the University of Michigan and a former vice chancellor for research at UNC;
  • Ping Fu, co-founder, chairman, president and CEO, Geomagic, in Research Triangle Park; and
  • Carl Schramm, CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The rare opportunity to participate in the national policy deliberation process will begin at 9 a.m. in the Koury Auditorium of the Kenan-Flagler Business School with remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who first announced the launch of the council in 2009. The council then will hear briefings by outside experts, discuss updates from subcommittees and participate in a question-and-answer session with the audience. Previous topics have included how innovations born out of research at federal labs and universities contribute to regional economic development and the importance of tax and regulatory policies that make start-up and growth capital more accessible to entrepreneurs.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required to attend. Tickets for students, faculty and the general public will be available at the Carolina Union Box Office, at South and Raleigh Roads, from Thursday (March 3) through March 14. Students and faculty with UNC One Cards may pick up tickets at the Kenan Center lobby desk from Thursday (March 3) through 4 p.m. March 14. Limited parking is available; attendees are encouraged to use public transit. To reach the Carolina Union Box Office, call (919) 962-1449.


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