What is IDEA?

Innovation Development

The process of turning your creative ideas into marketable products or services that benefit the public

Enterprise Advancement

Disseminating your idea to the public through licensing to a company, launching a new startup or listing in the UNC IDEA Store.


Are you an IDEA Innovator? Do you have an innovation, product, or service that you want to get out to the world?

Our office can help! Here are the steps to follow:


Tell us about your idea and we’ll help you determine the next steps, even if you aren’t sure how to develop it further.


Have your idea reviewed for its market potential so you can decide whether to invest additional effort. If the idea has market potential we’ll work with you to help develop it, either via grants, sponsored research contracts or licensing agreements.


We can help you decide on the best way to protect your intellectual property. This might mean applying for a patent, trademark or copyright.  If so, we can help with that, too.


Once your innovation is ready, we’ll help you decide whether to promote it through the IDEA Store@UNC, find an industry partner, or start a whole new company. If you want to partner with an established company, we’ll help you find the right partner for either sponsored research or licensing. If you want to start your own company, we’ll help you get launched and connect you with resources such as the UNC BizHub Collaborative and the Small Business Development Center.

What's the connection between IDEA and I@UNC?

IDEA is focused on taking innovations developed in any area of research or creative activity and focusing on getting those ideas developed into marketable products or services.

I@UNC is focused on innovations in areas that advance academics at UNC (new programs, new learners, new pedagogies, student success).

There is some potential overlap between IDEA and I@UNC but not always.  For example, IDEA is working with a small portion of the 2014-15 I@UNC projects that have commercial or licensing potential.  If you’re not sure where your innovation fits best, just let us know.  We’re happy to help you think through the options.