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Winston-Salem colleges and universities participate in collaborative program to support entrepreneurship

Winston-Salem colleges and universities participate in collaborative program to support entrepreneurship

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David Mounts (center), chairman and CEO of Inmar, kicked off the initial gathering of the Venture Cafe, held at Inmar in the Wake Forest Inovation Quarter. Sharing the stage with Mounts were Elwood L. Robinson (from left), Lindsay Bierman, Gary Green, Charles Petitt, D.E. Lorraine Sterritt, and Polly Black (behind Mounts).

All six colleges and universities in Winston-Salem have agreed to participate in an entrepreneurial grant program aimed at supporting entrepreneurship among their students and alumni.

David Mounts, chairman and chief executive of Inmar, and representatives from the schools made the announcement at Venture Café Winston-Salem’s inaugural Thursday Gathering in the Inmar headquarters in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

“When you think about the idea that these six institutions would come together and give a student or a recent alum an opportunity like they’re going to give today, it is remarkable,” Mounts said. “And if you are an aspiring and ambitious student who wants to pursue an entrepreneurial dream or dreams of innovating and making things better, solving problems that need to be solved, there is no louder statement than the ones being made today that you need to come to Winston-Salem.”

Other speakers were Gary M. Green, president of Forsyth Technical Community College; Charles Petitt, the president of Piedmont International University; Lorraine Sterritt, president of Salem College; Lindsay Bierman, chancellor of the UNC School of the Arts; Polly Black, executive director of the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University; and Elwood L. Robinson, chancellor of Winston-Salem State University.

The grants will range from $25,000 to $100,000 per year for three years. Each school will determine its own criteria structure and focus for its grants.

Forsyth Tech is creating The Launch Challenge award fund for alumni, current students, and its Small Business Center clients. The award pool is $100,000 per year for three years.

Piedmont International plans to create an award fund for its students and alumni who intend to stay in Winston-Salem to launch nonprofit organizations. The $75,000 fund will support award grants over the next three years.

Salem will create an award fund to provide financial support to its current students and alumnae for a startup venture in Winston-Salem. The fund will strengthen Salem’s current entrepreneurship program.

WSSU will create an award fund for its students and alumni, supporting projects that creatively address issues such as health equity and sustainable communities. The $100,000 fund will support award grants for the next three fiscal years.

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.

Wake Forest plans to create an award fund for its students and alumni who win an annual startup competition and base their startup in Winston-Salem. The $100,000 fund will support award grants over the next three years.

Venture Café’s Thursday Gathering was expected to have 400 to 500 participants by the time the event ended at 8 p.m.

“We are super excited about it,” said Karen Barnes, executive director of Venture Cafe Winston-Salem. “The community has embraced us.”

fdaniel@wsjournal.com 336-727-7366 @fdanielWSJ

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