In 2005, ECU's Entrepreneurial Initiative's (EI) was developed with the mission to foster entrepreneurship within the university community and eastern North Carolina.
The EI has three primary objectives:
- Create regional partnerships with public and private organizations to help the university develop companies and take products and services to market
- Create partnerships with public and private organizations to stimulate innovation throughout the business community in eastern North Carolina
- Foster practical experience for ECU students in an entrepreneurial environment
Capital is always a serious concern for early stage companies. The EI facilitates Eastern North Carolina - Investor Network meetings where companies present monthly to angel investors. The EI also helps entrepreneurs network with angel investors, venture capitalists, and other entities supporting early stage innovations.
The EI works with a few select companies each year. These companies may either be spin-ins or spin-outs.
spin-ins - companies or individuals from the community that need ECU research or technology assistance. They may also receive student help in preparation of investor presentations.
spin-outs - companies developed by ECU faculty that have commercialization potential.
Students and faculty from different colleges at ECU have the opportunity to be involved in this development process as part of their teaching/learning process. Students will learn the process of taking an idea from conception to commercialization.
Started in the fall of 2006 and currently ongoing the EI presents an Innov8r Series which provides educational opportunities on product launch. This series is comprised of classes that discuss information on market analysis, intellectual property, building and testing prototypes, financial analysis, and the launch - licensing, selling, or building a new company. The series also provides networking opportunities with professionals who are experienced in each area.
The EI provides an opportunity for highly innovative individuals to become informed about product development, capital resources, and networking to help support their early stage products through a social network and monthly speaker series called the Pirate Entrepreneurs.