Organizers of LAUNCH-Chapel Hill, the town’s new business incubator, are hoping to generate interest from a variety of startup companies, including social enterprises and technology ventures.
The incubator, expected to open in the spring, is receiving the first wave of applications on a rolling basis until Jan. 28. Chris Mumford, a member of the selection committee, says he expects to receive 25 to 40 applications this round.
“We’re obviously looking for companies that are going to be growing in the community and hopefully staying in the community once they graduate out of LAUNCH,” says Bobby Funk, assistant director of Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.
Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill officer of economic development, says the business incubator will help reduce “brain drain,” or the relocation of innovative business owners from one region to another.
“We lose a tremendous amount of talent from Chapel Hill to Raleigh and Durham, and it’s important for us to capture as much of that talent for a number of reasons, [such as] job creation and tax-based growth,” Bassett says.
LAUNCH will provide clients with services and mentorship to help them develop into mature companies. Individuals who have experience with startup companies and apply to be mentors will host workshops and train entrepreneurs to set up their companies, helping them with details such as their financial systems. Callie Brauel, co-founder of A Ban Against Neglect, says she applied to LAUNCH because the nonprofit organization needs a larger, more private workspace and will benefit from interacting with other startup companies in the same environment.
“LAUNCH is going to provide more networking opportunities and support from the community, and just give ABAN more exposure,” Brauel says.
The business incubator will be located in a 3,500-square-foot facility at 321 W. Rosemary St. The selection committee will meet monthly to review and accept companies based on company size, compatibility with mentors and available space. TW