City Startup Labs Establishing Center of Excellence at UNC Charlotte

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Oct. 6, 2015 -- City Startup Labs (CSL) is establishing a Center of Excellence for Entrepreneurial Competency, Innovation and Leadership (CoE) at UNC Charlotte, in association with Ventureprise, a campus-based venture development organization.

The center will operate from Ventureprise offices in PORTAL. Ventureprise Inc. is a nonprofit corporation affiliated with UNC Charlotte that serves as a venture development organization for the University and the Charlotte region.

The Center of Excellence will continue with the focus initiated by CSL during its two-year pilot — empowering young black men as entrepreneurs. However, in addition to teaching entrepreneurship, the CoE will provide an intrapreneurial track designed to deliver innovation, problem solving and leadership to corporate Charlotte and beyond. Intrapreneurs are individuals within a large corporation who take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product.

In partnership with the University’s Urban Education Collaborative, the CoE will research the effect that this education can have on young black men to address wealth disparities in Charlotte.

According to Henry Rock, executive director of City Startup Labs, “the opportunity to associate with UNC Charlotte through Ventureprise is a very big step for City Startup Labs.

“It allows us to draw upon the faculty, students, research capacity and other resources at the University, such as the Collegiate 100, as we continue with the work of creating a new class of entrepreneurs,” he said. “The Center of Excellence grows out of what was learned during the pilot, and the understanding that black male millennials must play a formidable role in closing Charlotte’s socioeconomic mobility gap.

“I think that both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship are key to erasing these disparities, as we get our young black men contributing to the lifeblood of Charlotte and elsewhere,” Rock said. “This affiliation will definitely deepen our entrepreneurial roots.”

Paul Wetenhall, president of Ventureprise, said he hopes for big things with the association with City Startup Labs.

“We anticipate that collaboration with City Startup Labs will strengthen Ventureprise business creation expertise while expanding CSL’s impact on enabling young African American men to pursue substantive opportunities as entrepreneurs or corporate intrapreneurs,” he said.

During the pilot period, launched in January 2014, CSL collaborated with the Urban League of Central Carolinas (ULCC) on this initiative. Going forward, City Startup Labs will continue working with the ULCC on the design and implementation of an entrepreneurial programs for use by its broader client base, as well as, for graduates of the Urban League’s certification programs.

City Startup Labs, a member of the Charlotte Entrepreneurial Alliance, will continue to maintain, as it has throughout the pilot, partnerships with Packard Place, Queen City Forward, the Small Business Association and SCORE.

CSL’s Center of Excellence will begin recruiting new candidates beginning in January 2016.



Media Contacts:

Henry Rock, 704-412-1322,

Paul Nowell, 704-687-5828, 704-582-9250,





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