Inmar Intelligence | May 4, 2017

Leaders from All Six Winston-Salem Universities/Colleges Announce at Inmar a Collaborative Program to Support Entrepreneurship

In an unprecedented and historic demonstration of solidarity, leaders from all six Winston-Salem-based colleges and universities shared the stage on May 4 at Inmar in support of the entrepreneurial efforts of their students and alumni. The announcement took place during the inaugural meeting of Venture Café Winston-Salem.

Each of the six Winston-Salem-based universities and colleges are pledging to incentivize entrepreneurship among their students and alumni through a series of programs based on their areas of focus and unique visions.

Attending the event were:

  • Inmar Chairman and CEO David Mounts, who currently serves as the co-chair of the entrepreneurial committee for the Winston-Salem Alliance
  • Forsyth Technical Community College President Dr. Gary M. Green
  • Piedmont International University, President Dr. Charles Petitt
  • Salem College President D. E. Lorraine Sterritt
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts Chancellor Lindsay Bierman
  • Wake Forest University Executive Director of Wake Forest's Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Polly Black
  • Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson

The grant(s) range from $25,000 - $100,000 per year for three years, offered to students or alumni of their particular school. Each school's grant criteria, structure and focus will be unique to the vision/passion each school leader has for the grant.

Forsyth Tech

Forsyth Technical Community College is creating a special award fund for alumni, current students, and Small Business Center clients. The Launch Challenge will foster successful business startups in Forsyth County and Stokes County. The award pool is $100,000 per year for three years through 2020. The award amount will be based on successful completion of the Launch Challenge. Participants will be required to launch or be prepared to launch their business by the end of the 3-4 month period.

Piedmont International University

Piedmont International University plans to create a special award fund for PIU students and alumni who intend to stay in Winston-Salem to launch their new non-profit organization. The $75,000 fund will support award grants over the next three years through 2020. The award amount per startup will be based upon the strategic vision, strength of the startup team, business and financial plan, and overall potential for maximum social/spiritual impact and broad success. The University may collaborate directly with the award recipient if a joint venture is deemed mutually beneficial.

Salem College

Salem College will create an award fund to provide financial support to its current students and alumnae in their pursuit of a startup venture located in Winston-Salem. Grant awards will be based upon the strength of the venture concept, validity of business model and financial plans, and overall potential for success. Salem has an entrepreneurship program that seeks to educate and empower women in the pursuit of business, social, and creative ventures. This fund will strengthen the program through experiential learning and real-world application.

Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem State University will create an award fund for WSSU students and alumni that will support projects that creatively address some of society's pressing issues, such as health equity, sustainable communities, and economic development, focusing on communities around the university. The $100,000 fund will support award grants for the next three fiscal years. Award recipients will be selected based on the strength of their team, the innovativeness of their proposal, and the potential to address broad social issues.

UNC School of the Arts

UNCSA will award up to $75,000 to students, alumni, faculty or staff for ventures that support Winston-Salem's growing creative economy through the Chancellor's Artrepreneurial Grant Program. Up to $50,000 of support will be provided for UNCSA-affiliated creative enterprises in the form of seed funding and/or finishing funds. and up to $25,000 in support and shared services will be provided for a UNCSA-affiliated creative business that is accepted and participates fully in the Creative Startups Accelerator hosted by the Center for Creative Economy (CCE) if they agree to operate in or relocate to WS. Artrepreneurial Grants are funded in part, and will be administered by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.

Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University plans to create a special award fund for Wake Forest students and alumni who win the annual startup competition and base their startup in Winston-Salem. The $100,000 fund will support award grants over the next three years through 2020. The award amount per startup will be based upon the strength of the startup team, product-market fit, business and financial plans, and overall potential for success.

"This collaboration sends a very clear message that if you are a student or alumni of a Winston-Salem college or university and you have a great idea, you will be supported here — through your school, this grant program, the Innovation Quarter, Venture Café, the Winston-Salem Alliance — Winston-Salem has come together to support innovators," said David Mounts, Chairman and CEO of Inmar, and co-chair of the Entrepreneurial Committee of the Winston-Salem Alliance.

Mounts said the schools' diverse areas of focus are important, "Diversity is critical to innovation." Salem College is a women's college, Winston-Salem State University is an HBCU. UNCSA is a top-tier arts conservatory; Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Piedmont is a nationally recognized leader of Bible-centered higher education and Forsyth Tech is a comprehensive community college.

Statements From University/College Leaders:

Forsyth Technical Community College
Statement from Gary M. Green, President

"For over 30 years Forsyth Technical Community College has been central to community entrepreneurship in Winston-Salem and the surrounding area, helping start 14 new businesses last year alone. Now we are pleased to join the new community entrepreneurship ecosystem with the announcement of the Forsyth Tech Launch Challenge. The Launch Challenge Fund, created by the Forsyth Tech Foundation, will invest $100,000 per year for the next three years in businesses launched by Forsyth Tech students, alumni, and Small Business Center clients. The fund will extend Forsyth Tech support for its students and clients, not only taking them to graduation or completion, but helping them launch their dreams of business ownership."

UNC School of the Arts
Statement from Lindsay Bierman, Chancellor

"Establishment of the world's fifth Venture Café right here in Winston-Salem strengthens our entrepreneurial ecosystem and positions the city to drive strong growth in the post-manufacturing economy," said UNCSA Chancellor Lindsay Bierman. "In partnership with the Center for Creative Economy, and the center's Creative Start-Ups Accelerator, we're committed to fostering what I call artpreneurship to grow the state's creative industries."

Wake Forest University
Statement from Nathan Hatch, President

"Wake Forest is excited to join with our neighboring institutions to keep our brightest young business minds in Winston-Salem. By working together, we can encourage students to launch their startups here and contribute their talents to one of the fastest-growing urban-based districts for innovation in the United States."


Shannon Lally Hanington
Sr. Manager, Corporate Communications
(336) 631-2873 office
(502) 386-2256 mobile

Forsyth Tech
Meg McDonald
Public Relations Director
Reuben Rink Marketing & Advertising
(336) 724-1766 office
(336) 397-5407 direct
(704) 575-7149 mobile

Piedmont International University
Vernon Brady
Director of Special Projects
(336) 684-6765

Salem College
Johnny Johnson
Communications and Social Media Manager
(336) 721-2831 office
(512) 963-7419 mobile

University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Lauren Whitaker
Media Relations Manager/Senior Writer
Office of Marketing and Communications
(336) 734-2891 office
(336) 813-6093 mobile

Wake Forest University
Kimberly McGrath
Assoc. Director, News and Communications
(336) 758-3209 office
(336) 749-0129 mobile

Winston-Salem State University
Jay Davis
Director of Communications and Media Relations
Integrated Marketing and Communications
(336) 750-3152

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