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Back in November UNC faculty, Carolina startup experts and media partner WRAL Digital Solutions gathered for a thought leadership discussion titled “Innovation Road Trip.” The event’s name was coined by Capitol B Creative Studio based on a new web series it is producing to explore the impact of innovators across the state of North Carolina. One of the series’ pilot episodes features the story of UNC/ NC State Joint BME Department Assistant Professor Rahima Benhabbour, founder of the UNC-affiliated startup AnelleO, which uses advanced 3D-printing technology for novel solutions in women’s health. 

During the session, the road trip panelists offered the following four pieces of advice to university researchers and their institutions on their way to launching ventures that make an economic impact: 1. Problem solving mindset; 2. Innovation infrastructure; 3. Startup accelerators; 4. Strategic partnerships. In particular, Dr Benhabbour shared how the idea for her company began from solving a problem she cared about: “My entrepreneurial passion comes from merging the need of helping women who want to get pregnant and have kids with the philanthropic side of using this platform technology for HIV prevention, and to channel back whatever successes that can happen with AnelleO to support this philanthropic endeavor.”

As for the other essentials in her faculty entrepreneur capacity, Benhabbour used Innovate Carolina’s services and network of resources to launch and build her company. The Eshelman Institute for Innovation provided an initial grant. The Office of Technology Commercialization helped her navigate patents, licensing and conflict-of-interest issues; KickStart Venture Services provided further award funding, startup consulting and accelerator space; and the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network assisted with entrepreneurial mentorship. For the full article on the panel discussion and entrepreneurship advice, visit Innovate Carolina website here. And watch Rahima Benhabbour’s “Innovation Road Trip” video here


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