Durham, NC - 3/5/2024

NCInnovation Expands Senior Leadership Team with Josh Howard and Erica Shrader

Durham, NC – NCInnovation, a non-profit organization that helps turn North Carolina’s university research breakthroughs into commercially viable solutions, today announced two additions to its senior leadership team: Josh Howard as General Counsel and Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer, and Erica Shrader as Vice President of Corporate Affairs.

Josh Howard has more than 20 years of experience as a defense attorney, corporate ethics officer, in-house counsel, and senior federal prosecutor. As a private litigator, Mr. Howard represented clients ranging from the indigent to a President of the United States, Members of Congress, and senior corporate executives. He was a federal prosecutor in the Western District of North Carolina before serving as Deputy Criminal Chief for Economic Crime in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Mr. Howard worked on a DOJ-White House team in support of three nominations to the Supreme Court. He was also Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer at RTI International and is a former Chairman of the North Carolina Board of Elections.

Erica Shrader has nearly two decades of experience in public policy, economic development, and partnership engagement. Since 2011, Ms. Shrader has worked for the Office of President Pro Tempore Phil Berger in multiple roles, including Senior Policy Advisor, Chief Budget Advisor, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, and Director of Strategic Initiatives, where she helped develop some of North Carolina’s most impactful policy measures. Before that, Ms. Shrader worked on Capitol Hill as Senior Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.

Bennet Waters, NCInnovation’s CEO, said, “I believe we’ve assembled some of the best leaders not just in North Carolina, but in the entire country. Our team is motivated and laser-focused on helping North Carolina university researchers commercialize their discoveries.”

By helping to accelerate the transition from academia to industry, NCI supports researchers with grant funding and support services to commercialize their research breakthroughs. State and federal dollars already fund early-stage applied research – NCInnovation supports the final leg of the university R&D relay race, helping promising discoveries become commercial-ready for entry into the private sector.

In the months since the state budget became law, NCInnovation has been building the infrastructure required to support its grants process. This infrastructure includes the policies, procedures, technology, and personnel required to solicit, review, validate, and recommend individual projects; the transactional process by which funding is distributed; and a comprehensive performance management and reporting system to ensure all grant dollars are used for the purposes intended.

NCInnovation anticipates more additions to its leadership team, and expects to share more information about its 2024 grantmaking plans in the near future.

NCInnovation is 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation focused intensely on accelerating commercialized innovation from North Carolina’s universities. NCInnovation deploys funding, mentors, and support services so that North Carolina university proofs-of-concept turn into companies and create jobs that remain in North Carolina. Learn more at