About Us

The statewide initiative, Innovation Fund North Carolina, is directed by Catawba Valley Community College engaging a deliberate network of higher education institutions, private and public incubators and accelerators, private investors, and private and public economic development organizations. Due to the six year leadership of only the third president in the college’s history, Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, Catawba Valley Community College was selected as one of only three community colleges nationally to participate in a demonstration project sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, called Innovation Fund America, whereby community colleges provide earliest seed-stage capital to entrepreneurial startup businesses. Catawba Valley Community College is highly entrepreneurial in fulfilling its dual mission of impacting education and economic development, so fostering entrepreneurship is part of its core DNA and campus culture.

About Catawba Valley Community College

Catawba Valley Community College, under Dr. Hinshaw’s leadership, is an innovative, comprehensive community college that fosters and promotes a multitude of learning experiences, enabling and empowering its students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders to identify and serve higher purposes in their lives and in their communities. Catawba Valley Community College has a distinguished recent history of advancing education and economic development through efforts including:

  • Establishing the first Office of Multicultural Affairs within The North Carolina Community College System of 58 colleges.
  • Enhancing and modifying its Hosiery Technology Center to an applied research and development facility called the Manufacturing Solutions Center, which in 2012 helped businesses in all sectors in 78 counties, 46 States, and 9 foreign countries; with its total multi-year economic impact approaching one-quarter of a billion dollars.
  • Opening the CVCC ValleySim Hospital, almost 30,000 square feet simulation of a regional hospital, and the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi; the ValleySim simulates any level of patient care and management through the use of mannequins that present any symptoms, give birth, and interact with care givers.
  • Created integrated entrepreneurship coursework from individual courses through seamless certificates, diplomas, and degrees.
  • Sponsoring the first National Champion team in Entrepreneurship, in the 2013 post-secondary Skills USA competition; and
  • Having one of the first two NACCE Fellows selected and hosting a NACCE Summit in 2013.

“We have made great strides but have more to do. The Innovation Fund North Carolina is a transformational initiative that will be a model of economic growth, job creation and disruptive, but positive educational experiences throughout North Carolina.”

Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, President    
Catawba Valley Community College

About the Kauffman Foundation

The Kauffman Foundation, a primary strategic partner in the Innovation Fund America initiative, has a rich history of working with colleges and universities to build entrepreneurship education programs and curricula. Kauffman has devoted millions of dollars over the last decade to the study of entrepreneurship, the education of entrepreneurs and the development of startup ecosystems. As a result of this work, not only are entrepreneurs widely considered a core contributor to sustainable job creation and economic growth, but the debate has shifted from whether higher education has a role in helping to create entrepreneurs, to how institutions of higher education, and notably community colleges, can play a catalytic role within their regions to encourage, stimulate and support entrepreneurs in a meaningful way. 

Within that context, IFA is informed by Kauffman’s intent to advance two important new concepts in entrepreneurship education and advancing innovation. First, while there is a role for traditional curriculum-based business education, entrepreneurs learn best through personalized, applied educational experiences coupled with peer learning. Second, university-led technology transfer is only one source of innovation-led startups; such new firms frequently emerge from industry, from hobbyists, from anywhere and anyone within communities. Community colleges, with their experience with workforce programs serving disadvantaged communities and nimble responsiveness to the economic and education needs of their regions, can play a leading role in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation. Innovation Fund North Carolina will build upon a successful model first developed in Northeast Ohio to provide rigorous and personalized applied learning opportunities to innovative new firms, while creating internship opportunities for the diverse student populations in North Carolina.

About the Innovation Fund

Launched in 2007, the Innovation Fund at Lorain County Community College offers vital support to new and young firms through pre-seed-stage access to capital for proof of concept, intensive coaching and mentoring, and education and internship opportunities. The regional fund supports technology-based entrepreneurial endeavors and emerging technology-based businesses.

Lorain’s Innovation Fund is supported and administered through a regional and state network of higher education, government and economic development partners to nurture a technology-based entrepreneurial environment for wealth creation and job growth in Northeast Ohio. Partners include: The University of Akron; Youngstown State University; The University of Akron Research Foundation; Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED); Cleveland State University; Lorain County Community College Foundation; Youngstown Business Incubator; JumpStart; Great Lakes Innovation & Development Enterprise (GLIDE); and the State of Ohio – Third Frontier program.

Lorain’s Innovation Fund has raised nearly $14 million to invest in technology-based, growth-oriented startup companies throughout the 21 county region of Northeast Ohio. To date, the Lorain Fund has invested more than $7 million in over 100 startups that, in turn, have generated over $17 million in revenue, created over 320 jobs, provided over 150 paid internships, and raised over $80 million in additional investments.