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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Kenan Institute 2024 Grand Challenge: Business Resilience
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

Business Development

To support our mission of developing and promoting innovative, market-based solutions to vital economic issues, the Kenan Institute convenes diverse groups of cross-sector leaders for discussions on the most pressing challenges and exciting opportunities for business today. We also disseminate cutting-edge research to academic partners, business leaders and policymakers, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and drive economic progress. In turn, we welcome private- and public-sector partners to inform our thought leadership and research to best serve their needs.

Benefits of Partnering with the Kenan Institute

  • Gain access to cutting-edge translational research
  • Tap into the convening power of UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School across multiple sectors and industries
  • Network with leading experts on trending issues
  • Build your brand among academic, industry and government thought leaders
SunTrust/Truist Foundation
The Truist (formerly SunTrust) Foundation pledged a multi-year gift to launch and support the NCGrowth SmartUp program, which transforms three high-potential communities in North Carolina and South Carolina (Elizabeth City, North Charleston, and the Triad) by supporting small businesses committed to local hiring. SmartUp selects a cohort of up to 10 growing companies in each location and provides consulting services for a two-year period. SmartUp also hosts networking events and workshops in coordination with the local government to strengthen the community’s overall economy.
Kenan-Flagler Business School was selected, along with 16 other academic institutions from around the world, to be part of the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) funded by Ripple. Ripple’s financial gift and subject matter expertise have enabled Kenan-Flagler and Rethinc. Labs to support research, curriculum development and project-based work in blockchain and distributed systems; cryptocurrency and distributed payments; innovation in banking and financial technology; entrepreneurship-related topics; and the economic and legal implications of fintech.
Kauffman Foundation
With support from the Kauffman Foundation, the Kenan Institute engaged undergraduate and pre-doctoral students in student-centered translational research in the field of entrepreneurship. Students were exposed to cutting-edge research reports and policy debates and interacted with top practitioners, sharing the lessons they learned with the broader academic community. The students also generated their own content on entrepreneurial topics and supported the Kenan Institute’s research activities in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Vista Equity
In partnership with Vista Equity Partners, the Kenan Institute hosted a Software Growth and Investment Symposium at the Rizzo Conference Center in Chapel Hill. The event brought together members of the Triangle’s burgeoning tech ecosystem to learn from leading software executives and their investors about proven approaches to scaling from $10 million to $100 million in annual recurring revenue.  Vista Equity is also a sponsor of the Frontiers of Entrepreneurship conference and its related programs.
North Carolina CEO Leadership Forum
In the spring of 2020, the Kenan Institute convened the North Carolina CEO Leadership Forum to provide private sector leaders with a voice in navigating the complex issues that North Carolina faces in restarting the state’s economy. The work of the forum is nonpartisan and data-driven, leveraging a select, diverse group of business leaders and UNC faculty experts to develop actionable recommendations for the state’s leadership and the business community at large. The ultimate goal of the forum is to promote the health and economic well-being of North Carolina’s citizens and to be a model of public-private cooperation for other states around the country. The most notable outcome of the group to date is its Seven Forces Reshaping the Economy white paper, which outlines trends and opportunities for the economies of North Carolina and the U.S.
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National Venture Capital Association
In partnership with the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), the Kenan Institute and Stanford Graduate School of Business produced a research brief on the value of immigrant entrepreneurs to the U.S. economy. The brief cites a growing body of academic literature demonstrating that high-skilled immigrants provide a range of long-lasting and material benefits to the U.S. economy through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Partnership Opportunities

Support Translational Research – Share your subject matter expertise with our faculty and research team in the co-creation of applicable knowledge.

Sponsor Events – Build your brand at UNC and across networks of industry and government leaders as you support vital convenings that promote thought leadership to address the most important issues businesses face.

Collaborate with an Affiliated Center – The Kenan Institute’s affiliated centers provide opportunities to support translational research and events on a more focused, specialized level, with topics ranging from corporate sustainability to emerging technologies to the business of healthcare.

Meet the Team

David Knowles

Managing Director
  • 919.843.7304

Patrick G. Hartley

Fellow, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise