Business Listening Sessions

In a series of eight meetings facilitated by the Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) in November and December 2012, UNC asked business leaders and economic developers across the state how campuses could most effectively help them and their regions grow and thrive over the next five years. Following is an overall summary of ideas and areas of emphasis.

How can the University help you grow business and/or communicate about business needs and interests?

Communication and Accessibility

  • UNC needs to do a better job communicating relevant information with organizations in the community while concurrently working to make its resources (e.g. research, expertise, intellectual property, equipment, talks/conferences) more accessible.
  • Consider different communication media; podcasts, personal phone call, social media
  • Push out relevant information related to university resources

Job Readiness

  • UNC needs to serve as a talent pipeline for business, providing a well-trained job ready workforce.   
  • Promote internships and experiential education

Form Deeper Relationships with the community

  • UNC needs to forge stronger, more prismatic relationships with the communities that they serve
  • Executive speaker series
  • Faculty meet with promising startups — “dating”
  • Ongoing co-ops, internships and applied research

Resources for Lifelong Learning

  • Continue to develop continuing education and methods for experience/competency to degree transfer for a broader demographic.
  • Work with businesses to develop industry specific courses and certifications.  


  • UNC needs to focus on translating research into solutions for community and business needs.
  • Streamline intellectual property transfer and speed up commercialization

What “hard” (degree programs/technical skills) and “soft” (Global, creative, entrepreneurial) skills do you need from UNC campuses over the next five years?

What is your “one great idea” on the best ways the university can help businesses be successful?

  • Focus on developing deep expertise—each university should be the best in the world at one thing.
  • Continue to support and expand key community resources (e.g. applied research/rapid prototyping centers, industry conferences).
  • Invest in strategic growth areas and clusters (e.g. multi-university aerospace program).
  • Promote more UNC- industry partnerships for government research.
  • Blur the lines between the university, community, business and the community colleges. 
  • Work with business leaders to develop deeper and more sustainable partnerships.

Other Listening Session Materials

Regional Summaries