Monday, April 16, 2018

Devin Collins recently spent a week in Jamaica, where he worked with entrepreneurs as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored visit, leading multiple workshops, customer discovery competitions and roundtable discussions at the U.S. embassy.

In his talks, he provided insight into best practices related to startup ventures and the role of universities in driving and developing job creation through innovation among other topics related to entrepreneurism.

 A key point he stressed is that startups are the real job creators not major corporations, according to a feature story in The Gleaner.

Collins, associate director for Ventureprise, participated in the visit for the Young Leaders of Americas Initiative, Professional Fellows Program, funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Dave Oakley, a Jamaican entrepreneur and founder of Crimebot Limited, had visited North Carolina in fall 2017. Collins served as his mentor during a five-week stay in the United States.

Ventureprise works to provide the resources and expertise for University and community-based startups to graduate to the next level of business formation, scaling or funding. It is located in UNC Charlotte’s PORTAL Building.

It also operates a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps) site for university technology commercialization and offers the customer discovery curriculum; 65 teams (40 faculty and 93 students) have participated in the Ventureprise Launch NSF I-Corps program since 2015, with program participants raising $1.8 million in additional funding.

Additionally, Ventureprise received an NC IDEA ecosystem grant to offer this program to early-stage, innovation-driven startups in Charlotte and western North Carolina. Since Ventureprise Launch NC IDEA’s inception in 2017, it has served 31 local companies. More than 25 of these companies are active, collectively raising $3.2 million.