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Alumni Magazine

From the lab to startup

College of Engineering research has the potential to make global impacts. NC State has resources that can help.

Illustrated diagram of startup process.

Innovations that come out of the College of Engineering make a lasting impact on North Carolina, the U.S. and around the world. NC State has launched the second-most startups of any university in the U.S. without a medical school and is number four among all universities. To help take ideas and research from the lab to the market, NC State’s Office of Research Commercialization (ORC) provides resources, financial support and advising to faculty and staff members.

Finding funding

The ORC offers several ways for research-based startups to receive initial funding to grow their company, continue innovating their product, hire employees and more:

  • NC State’s Lulu eGames: Startups that have licensed NC State intellectual property in the last three years can compete for up to $25k of Daugherty Endowment Funding during the annual entrepreneurship competition. $50k total is awarded each year, with the second- and third-place teams receiving $15k and $10k.
  • Chancellor’s Innovation Fund: Supports short-term, commercially focused research projects. Through 2021, the fund has awarded $3.7M to 57 projects.
  • Capital: The Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN), Triangle Venture Alliance and Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s Connection to Capital Program offer support to companies getting off the ground.

Innovative ideas

College of Engineering faculty members and students work on groundbreaking research and projects that help improve human health, transportation, education and more. An idea that starts in a lab or classroom can turn into a product that improves the lives of millions.

Turning an idea into a company

Faculty members reach out to the ORC to discuss licensing, patents and invention disclosures. Through the ORC, faculty members have access to startup attorneys, regulatory consultants from RTI International, grant writing and business plan specialists, creative services and a co-working space on Centennial Campus. Here, faculty members can get advice on working through details like Food and Drug Administration or Environmental Protection Agency regulatory processes, license reviews, product development analysis and market landscape analysis. The ORC also provides creative services to assist in developing logos, a website and branded materials. The National Science Foundation I-Corps Site offers training to help researchers take their ideas to the market.

A new startup is launched

Once NC State entrepreneurs have been issued the necessary patents and licenses, gone through rounds of approval, identified a market and raised funds, their startup is ready to launch. NC State-associated startups have made important impacts on the North Carolina economy and for people around the world. The ORC has supported more than 190 startups and spinoffs from NC State research. Since 1988, 106 startups with ties to the College of Engineering have been launched.


  • In 2021, all three Daugherty Award winners have ties to the College
  • 20 projects with ties to COE and its affiliated departments received Chancellor’s Innovation Fund awards 2015-21
  • WIN has invested $13M in NC State startups
  • Among universities without a medical school, NC State is:
    • 4th in total licenses issued
    • 1st in active licenses and options
    • 5th in invention disclosures
  • The College of Engineering has:
    • 2,519 invention disclosures
    • 401 currently issued patents

Success stories

  • Bay Nano Technologies won the third-place 2021 eGames Daugherty Endowment Award and has developed a smart glass at a low cost that helps save electricity. Nano-crystal ink technology applied to glass makes it tint automatically. The startup is led by Aram Amassian, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
  • ImagineOptix, a Durham-based company, is commercializing a patented thin-film polarizing beamsplitter technology called HoloBright. The NC State startup company has commercialized several technologies developed by Michael Escuti, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • GridBridge is an early spinoff from the FREEDM Systems Center that was acquired by ERMCO in 2017. The company partners with electric utilities to introduce products that enable the adoption of green technology, optimize electricity flow on the grid, minimize the cost of overhauls and ensure customer satisfaction.