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Cape Fear Region's Largest Employers Share Needs with Local Entrepreneurs

State treasurer Janet Cowell welcomes entrepreneurs at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's latest business event.

UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or CIE, has unveiled the business sector’s answer to match-making. 

At a breakfast on Thursday, the CIE challenged the Cape Fear region’s largest employers to share some as-yet unsolved problems with more than two hundred area business people.  Those entrepreneurs holding potential solutions were then invited to contact employers with their ideas.  While employers represented such diverse industries as life sciences, the military and academia, the most-often cited needs related to information technology.

Castle Branch wants to develop apps to connect college students to mentors in their fields of study.  PPD is seeking employees who are globally aware, and the North Carolina Military Business Center is working to create more efficient solar panels and other energy harvesters.  UNCW is looking to recruit IT experts--as students and faculty increasingly rely on university wifi--and GE Hitachi is after new ways to leverage big data.

North Carolina treasurer Janet Cowell, who provided opening remarks, says such needs reverberate across the state.

"One of the themes I’ve seen as treasurer and through our in-state innovation fund is definitely the technology and software needs. Obviously across government—I think we heard from UNC Wilmington, as well as the private corporations here--that increasingly, running an efficient business is about effectively using data, making decisions."

Cowell says this is why the state is investing heavily in software. She adds that information technology is particularly crucial in the Cape Fear Region, as it’s home to such a diversified--and growing--economy.