Durham, NC - 5/30/2024

What They Are Saying: UNC System Chancellors Weigh in on NCInnovation Research Funding

NCInnovation approved $5.2 million in research grants to seven universities for projects from cancer research to lithium refining to PFAS removal

Durham, NC – NCInnovation’s Board of Directors approved $5.2 million in research grants to eight projects at seven public North Carolina universities. Large sums of public funds already support early-stage research at universities in the state—NCInnovation grants focus intensely on supporting applied research that has achieved proof of concept and shows commercial promise.

The campus-to-industry research pipeline has anchored American technological dominance for decades. NCInnovation funding and programs help advance more groundbreaking inventions towards commercialization with the end goal of job creation and economic growth state-wide. 

Since the initial announcement, NC University Chancellors have come out in support of the funding and its significance for university innovations:

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber:

“As an emerging top-tier research university, UNC Charlotte and its researchers are developing breakthroughs in areas such as energy, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, and biotechnology. We’re thankful to state lawmakers and NCInnovation for recognizing the importance of university-applied research to our state’s economy. It’s great to see Charlotte Professors Jordan Poler and Sukumar Kamalasadan, who are conducting impactful work, receive NCInnovation’s support.”

UNC Greensboro Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.:

“From mobile phones to automobiles, our everyday modern lifestyle relies on lithium batteries. Purification of lithium is key to battery production, a critical emerging industry at home in Greensboro, our state and surrounding region, and globally. UNC Greensboro is proud of Dr. Hemali Rathnayake and the pioneering research she leads in the development of a cost-effective and efficient lithium refining process. The funding support from state legislators and NCInnovation is vital to continuing this applied research.”

UNC Wilmington Chancellor Aswani K. Volety:

“UNC Wilmington is home to incredible researchers working on potentially transformative projects. Thank you to lawmakers and NCInnovation for supporting applied research at UNC Wilmington, where faculty and students collaborate to address regionally relevant and globally important issues. We’re very proud of Dr. Ying Wang’s pioneering work on flu vaccine development.”

Appalachian State University Chancellor Dr. Heather Norris:

“Our faculty are recognized nationally for their innovative research and teaching.  Their work is having a positive impact in western North Carolina and beyond. On behalf of Appalachian State University, we extend our appreciation to our state lawmakers and NCInnovation for believing in and supporting applied research at App State.”

N.C. A&T State University Chancellor Harold Martin:

“Scientific discovery and the pursuit of solutions that advance the human condition are critically important to North Carolina A&T’s mission as a high-impact research university. We thank the General Assembly and NCInnovation for supporting Dr. Dellinger’s work, as well as the university applied research that fuels innovation across our state.”

East Carolina University Chancellor Philip Rogers:

“Dr. Van Dross-Anderson’s work is a potential game changer for cancer treatment and is a perfect example of how NCInnovation can work with researchers to translate breakthroughs in the lab into products that can make a difference in the lives of our families and neighbors. We appreciate the support of state lawmakers and NCInnovation for applied research at ECU, and we’re excited to see how this work will progress.”

Western Carolina University Chancellor Dr. Kelli R. Brown:

“Dr. Byrd’s award from NC Innovation is a testament to the exemplary dedication to teaching and applied research by the outstanding faculty at Western Carolina University. We are confident that this announcement will serve as a catalyst for additional innovative exploration by our faculty as we strive to bolster economic conditions in Western North Carolina, and indeed the entire State. I would like to thank the General Assembly for supporting exciting, applied research underway here at Western Carolina University and across the UNC System.” 

Find more information on the announcement here and grant projects here.

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