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UNC Hosts Community Connections Program from Belarus

July 3, 2017
UNC Global Affairs

On June 13, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted 10 visitors from Belarus participating in a Community Connections program focused on innovation-based entrepreneurship development. A program of the U.S. Agency for International Development administered by World Learning and International Focus, Community Connections is designed to foster cultural exchange between American organizations and international visitors and to enhance participants’ professional experience. Participants represented a variety of sectors in Belarus, including higher education institutions, government organizations, and businesses with interests ranging from entrepreneurship legislation and product creation processes to development of start-ups and operations management.

The first half of the visit to UNC included meetings with the Office for Commercialization and Economic Development and the Minor in Entrepreneurship, based within the College of Arts and Sciences. In the latter half, participants spent time at Launch Chapel Hill, a start-up accelerator which strives to help launch and grow local businesses and is supported by the University, the town of Chapel Hill, Orange County and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership. The participants learned about the programs and resources offered to students and faculty by Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, as well as the units across campus that are a part of the University’s innovation ecosystem. Over lunch, the participants engaged in discussion about best practices in starting small businesses with representatives from some of the companies included in Launch’s accelerator program for early stage businesses. The day concluded with a tour of the 1789 Venture Lab, UNC’s hub for entrepreneurial activity, which supports students who have an interest in business innovation and start-up development.

“We really enjoyed getting to meet the Belarus delegation,” said Stefano Rivera, events and facilities manager at Launch Chapel Hill and program assistant for the 1789 Venture Lab. “They asked great questions, and we learned a great deal about their programs. It is always interesting for us to meet with international delegations; we are often able to notice gaps in our programs or areas for improvement.”

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