Startup Ecosystem Building In North Carolina’s Raleigh and Triangle Region

This is a sample from the CIMS July/August 2014 IMR which presents an article written by Derrick Minor. The article talks about the Triangle’s growing startup ecosystem due to its support, networks, and tier 1 research universities.

At HQ Raleigh’s festive opening in March 2014, co-founder Chris Gergen announced that 70 companies already had space in the downtown Raleigh incubator. Photo HQ Raleigh. 

In January 2014, “the unique entrepreneurial landscape that continues to evolve in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill” was added to the entrepreneurial ecosystems featured by ID8 Nation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s channel on  

Describing North Carolina’s Research Triangle as “striving to become one of the top five entrepreneurial hotspots in the country,” ID8 quoted Kauffman’s vp of entrepreneurship, Thom Ruhe, saying RTP “not only has a vibrant startup community to model, it is facing some challenges that other cities also might relate to.” 

Raleigh took its place in this emerging ecosystem with an Innovation Summit in January 2012. According to Derrick Minor, Raleigh’s innovation and entrepreneurship manager, more than 175 people attended, representing government, area universities, nonprofits, venture capital firms, big business and entrepreneurs. “It was an amazing group— some in suits and ties, others in jeans and sneakers—all working together on a common goal: To create a unified vision for the City’s innovation initiatives.”  

Since then, at least two Triangle startup-focused work spaces have opened in downtown Raleigh (American Underground and HQ Raleigh) and the technology incubator at NC State University is expanding. Minor surveys the ferment in his article below. 

Building a regional ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs requires a number of important components to be in place for that ecosystem to grow and thrive. As an observer of Raleigh and the Research Triangle region over the last 20 years, I have seen several of these components emerge during this period, notably: high-tech startups, top talent, tier 1 research universities, and large established companies. However, they have been disconnected from one another and, as a result, a cohesive ecosystem was never created.

Happily, though, a number of core infrastructure elements have come together during the past 24 months that are allowing our ecosystem to coalesce and innovation in Raleigh and environs to gain substantial momentum.  I estimate more than 375 startups and growth-stage companies have opened or expanded in Raleigh, with many more on the way.

HQ Raleigh and American Underground

The need for flexible and affordable office space for startups (and the accompanying density) has pushed both HQ Raleigh and the American Underground to the top of my list of critical infrastructure components that have helped Raleigh and the region rise. Both HQ and AU represent unique communities of startup teams who, with their associated partners and resources, are helping the Research Triangle community begin positioning itself as one of the top U.S. destinations for talent, entrepreneurship and startups.

HQ Raleigh expanded recently and opened for entrepreneurs in March. It aims to empower, foster and cultivate companies that can produce long-term job growth and positive social impact. It addresses two challenges facing entrepreneurs: building a trusted support community and gaining access to flexible, affordable office space. Its 15,000 ft2 downtown space boasts such amenities as private office suites, co-working space, conference rooms, classrooms, and a café space with a full-service kitchen, bar and specialty coffee shop…

To read the full article check out the CIMS July/August 2014 newsletter at

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