Research and Economic Development
Research and Economic Development at UNC Charlotte strives to advance the quality, diversity, and growth of research at UNC Charlotte. A special value is placed on the translation of research results that impact our social, cultural, and economic communities.
Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development
The Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development provides direction and leadership for the development and translation of research and creative activity at the University and the infrastructure that supports those activities. The Vice Chancellor leads the research and economic development efforts of the Charlotte Research Institute and directs eight support offices: Office of Grants and Contracts Administration, Office of Proposal Development, Office of Research Compliance, Office of Research Services and Outreach, Office of Technology Transfer, Lab Animal Resources, Small Business and Technology Development Center, and Ventureprise.
Charlotte Research Institute
The Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) is the portal for business-university-government partnerships at UNC Charlotte. CRI’s goal is to enhance the research and technology infrastructure and stimulate economic development within the region and state. We are purposefully organized to stimulate innovation through interdisciplinary and cross-functional collaboration between UNC Charlotte’s exceptional academic talent, industry, entrepreneurs, and government agencies. We maximize partnerships, create research teams, and generate results. New business and research ventures, university partnerships with regional, national, and international enterprises, and CRI-supported spin-off companies all draw research and businesses to the region and spur economic growth.
The mission of the Charlotte Research Institute is to accelerate research, partnerships, and business development by promoting, focusing, and sustaining UNC Charlotte research on innovative solutions and emerging opportunities. It serves as the single point of contact between the university, industry, and government to stimulate research and create jobs. We work with economic development allies at the local, regional, and state level to help generate new economic development investment for the region. As a primary source for intellectual capital and technology partnerships, CRI spans basic and applied research and research across disciplines and organizations.
Science and engineering ventures at CRI are driven by the internationally known results of its research centers and core focus areas such as advanced manufacturing, precision metrology, visualization, optoelectronics, data analytics, and energy production and infrastructure. CRI’s research partnerships also include motorsports research and automotive engineering, nanoscale science, translational research, health sciences, and cancer research. Key initiatives related to data science include bioinformatics, business analytics, health informatics, defense computing, and cybersecurity. Access to UNC Charlotte state-of-the-art research facilities and specialized resources helps companies take their R&D efforts to the next level.
The CRI sector of the UNC Charlotte campus, as defined by North Carolina legislation, offers special opportunities for collaboration with private sector partners. In particular, partner companies may contract the use of research capabilities, facilities, and/or specialized equipment on the CRI Campus, contract for sole-use space, and construct and manage privately owned buildings. UNC Charlotte’s commitment to industry-government-university partnership includes leasable state-of-the-art laboratory space and Class A office space in the PORTAL (Partnership, Outreach, and Research to Accelerate Learning) innovation center. Located at the University’s Research Institute entrance to campus, PORTAL offers 96,000 square feet of premium office and research lease space where business partners and entrepreneurs have daily exposure to the creative mix of students, faculty, and specialized assets available at North Carolina’s urban research university. PORTAL’s exceptional convening spaces support business tenants within the facility and provide venues for events and meetings with University business and research partners. The PORTAL industry-university partnership facility is home to Ventureprise, UNC Charlotte Office of Technology Transfer, and the Charlotte Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
More information about the Charlotte Research Institute can be found online at cri.uncc.edu.
Office of Grants and Contracts Administration
The Office of Grants and Contracts Administration (GCA) provides sponsored programs accounting, cash management, financial reporting, contract negotiation and approval, post-award management support, and cost analysis services. The Cost Analysis group manages the F&A and fringe benefit rate proposals to the Federal government and oversees effort reporting, cost-share reporting, recharge unit accounting, and research space inventory. The Post Award Management group works with the college sponsored programs offices to provide comprehensive grant accounting services from award setup through closeout, including final invention, equipment, and fiscal reporting and Federal financial aid reimbursement request. The Contracting unit is responsible for initiation of awards including contract negotiation and execution.
Advancing University Research Administration (AURA) within GCA, is focused on improving research administration processes and supporting systems. The objective is to streamline research administration processes to improve effectiveness, efficiencies and customer service, enabling the University research faculty to increase their research endeavors. The AURA program is aligned with the University goal to reach $55 million annually in research funding by 2021 and the strategic goals of Research and Economic Development, which include improving customer service, increasing collaboration with other universities, and continuing to build the culture of research within the colleges at UNC Charlotte.
Office of Proposal Development
The Office of Proposal Development (OPD) works closely with faculty and funding agencies to identify opportunities for proposal development, facilitate the formation of proposal teams, and provide a wide range of services to help faculty achieve their research goals, including consultation on writing and funding strategies, and proposal editing.
Office of Research Compliance
The Office of Research Compliance (ORC) encompasses Biosafety, Conflict of Interest and Export Control. The office facilitates and monitors University-wide compliance with federal and state policies established to ensure ethical conduct in research. The Conflict of Interest Manager works with faculty and staff to ensure compliance with Federal, State, and University-wide regulations and policies that relate to conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment. Through its work with the Institutional Review Board, the ORC ensures respect, fairness, and safety in human subjects research. Likewise, oversight for the humane care and use of animals used in research and teaching is achieved through its work with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The ORC works with the Institutional Biosafety Committee and the Environmental Health and Safety Office to oversee biohazardous agents used in research and monitor safety concerns involving chemicals and radiation, and has responsibility for the University’s adherence to export control regulations.
Office of Research Services and Outreach
The Office of Research Services and Outreach (ORSO) provides services for the review and submission of proposals to funding agencies, including the interpretation of guidelines, preparation of budgets, and submission and tracking of proposals. ORSO also coordinates research-support efforts with college research officers and facilitates training opportunities for department and college administrators charged with helping faculty manage their grants.
Office of Technology Transfer
The Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) provides services for the review, protection, and management of University-based intellectual property, and commercializes intellectual property through licensing services. OTT builds and maintains strategic partnerships with local and state-based economic development agencies; assists and mentors faculty and students with new business start-ups; provides outreach services in the areas of entrepreneurship, new business creation, intellectual property management, and venture capital financing; oversees all aspects of patent filing, prosecution, and maintenance; and acts as a conduit to industry for sponsored research and technology commercialization. In addition, OTT is responsible for establishing confidentiality agreements with parties outside of the University and for ensuring the orderly, properly documented transfer of research tools such as genetic material via the use of Material Transfer Agreements.
Lab Animal Resources
UNC Charlotte’s laboratory animal veterinarians and technical staff provide appropriate care and well-being to all animals housed, as well as investigator training, technical assistance and guidance, laboratory, and imaging services. Our goal is the maintenance of an enriched, variable-free, secure, and humane environment for our animal subjects, as well as superb customer service for our research clients.
Small Business and Technology Development Center
The Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) is one of 17 University-affiliated offices of The University of North Carolina’s business and technology extension service and is operated in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. SBTDC specialists provide management counseling and educational services to small and mid-sized businesses and also helps business owners and managers, economic and community development organizations, education institutions and not-for-profit organizations develop strategies and action plans to gain competitive advantage. The SBTDC helps clients successfully compete for federal, state, and local government contracts; provides assistance with export financing; and provides research and marketing support services, primary research on small business needs and economic impact, and other special projects or studies.
Ventureprise Inc. is a non-profit organization that serves as a venture development organization for the university and the Charlotte region. Its programs primarily target innovation-driven entrepreneurs, university researchers, and university students interested in entrepreneurship.
Ventureprise organizes the annual Charlotte Venture Challenge business competition, supports technology commercialization through customer discovery as a National Science Foundation I-Corps Site, and operates incubators for regional innovation-driven entrepreneurs and UNC Charlotte students.
UNC Charlotte students seeking entrepreneurial experiences and guidance can participate in multiple programs that are summarized at entrepreneurship.uncc.edu. A focal point for students is the 49er Foundry student business incubator operated by Ventureprise in the PORTAL building. Through the 49er Foundry, Ventureprise provides business advisory services, connections, and a learning community that support the launch of successful student-founded ventures. Companies have access to services including wireless internet, conference rooms, and office equipment. The space supports business-oriented social interaction and networking.
Centers and institutes are established within the University to strengthen and enrich multidisciplinary programs of research, public service, or instruction conducted by the faculty and staff. They may also provide undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with added research opportunities, facilities, and assistance, as well as enhance their involvement in public service and educational activities. Centers and institutes also have a strong positive impact on the economic development of the state by providing job opportunities, supplying technical assistance and training, fostering community development, and enhancing the transfer of new technologies. By engaging in partnerships with organizations such as private or corporate sponsors, educational institutions, and federal or state agencies, centers serve as an important means to address the diverse mission of the University.
The Urban Institute is a nonpartisan, applied research and community outreach center at UNC Charlotte. Founded in 1969, it provides services including technical assistance and training in operations and data management; public opinion surveys; and research and analysis around economic, environmental, and social issues affecting the Charlotte region. Visit ui.uncc.edu for more information.
Bioinformatics Research Center (BRC)
The Bioinformatlcs Research Center (BRC) offers space for both wet and dry laboratories, and includes core facilities for molecular biology, proteomics, and computing. Additional genomics and proteomics core facilities are available through a UNC Charlotte partnership with Atrium Health. The BRC has also taken a leadership role in developing Bioinformatics programs in collaboration with the developers of the North Carolina Research Campus, a billion dollar, 350-acre research park that is home to the research programs of a large number of private biotechnology companies as well as university and medical research programs. Visit brc.uncc.edu for more information.
Center for Applied Geographic Information Science
The Center for Applied GIS is an interdisciplinary research center that addresses pressing global resource and sustainability concerns through analysis of human-environment interactions at multiple spatial, temporal, and decision-making scales. We resolve complex questions by integrating theory from the geospatial, natural, and social sciences coupled with advanced modeling techniques and high performance computing. Visit gis.uncc.edu for more information.
Center for Biomedical Engineering and Science (CBES)
The complexity of biomedical issues requires collaborative and multi-disciplinary efforts to make optimal advancements. The CBES mission addresses this by fostering interdisciplinary collaborations for advancing biomedical engineering research and development using a systems approach. As such, CBES provides the infrastructure for faculty and students at UNC Charlotte and biomedical researchers in the Charlotte metropolitan area, to collaborate on critical biomedical issues. In this way, our CBES researchers are able to synergize their expertise to strongly impact biomedical engineering research, development, and practices. Visit cbes.uncc.edu for more information.
Center for Optoelectronics and Optical Communications
The Opto Center provides cost-effective access to specialized expertise and apparatus in optics, imaging, and nano-fabrication, including plasma etching, dielectric deposition and metallization; optical & e-beam lithography; optical, e-beam, and atomic-force microscopy; x-ray diffraction; 3-D nano-scale printing; freeform micro-milling and magnetorheological polishing; interferometric surface characterization; spectroscopic measurements of refractive index, attenuation, reflection, transmission, emissivity, and angular scattering; optical design services; fiber optics; and laser technical support. Our highly qualified support staff can perform measurements and fabrications, design and develop prototypes, or provide training to users to operate our facilities independently. We welcome teaming opportunities with both academic and industry partners. Visit opticscenter.uncc.edu for more information.
Center for Precision Metrology (CPM)
The Center for Precision Metrology is an interdisciplinary association of UNC Charlotte faculty and student researchers, allied with industrial partners in the research, development and integration of precision metrology as applied to manufacturing. Working with dimensional tolerances on the order of 10 parts per million or better, precision metrology encompasses the methods of production and inspection in manufacturing, measurement, algorithms, tolerance representation, and the integration of metrology into factory quality systems.
Currently operating as a graduated Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC), the Center for Precision Metrology is charged with breaking new ground in precision metrology through addressing real-world industrial concerns. Through the associated Affiliates Program, industrial and Center researchers collaborate on projects that involve generic and specific manufacturing metrology problems in support of the Center’s research efforts, affiliate members contribute funds and equipment that are directly applied to student projects and research assistantships. The CPM works closely with the UNC Charlotte Lee College of Engineering’s internationally recognized Advanced Manufacturing program as well.
Additional specific research is funded through contracts with industrial partners to address proprietary application and development projects. Government funding is solicited for sponsoring fundamental and largescale metrology projects. Additionally the Center is partnered with lead university UCLA as an NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for Scalable and Integrated Nanomanufacturing (SINAM) along with the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; University of California, San Diego; and HP labs. Visit cpm.uncc.edu for more information.
Center for Professional and Applied Ethics
As the Ethics Center for North Carolina’s urban research university, The Center for Professional and Applied Ethics works to promote a culture of robust research and discussion in ethics and the application of ethical research and debate in the University, Charlotte community, and beyond.
The Center for Professional and Applied Ethics collaborates with a range of constituencies, providing ethics expertise and research as a foundation for ethical deliberation. Together, we shape an interdisciplinary intellectual and moral space in which people can critically assess, thoughtfully discuss, and strategically address ethical challenges in areas such as business, healthcare, information technology, and popular culture. Visit ethics.uncc.edu for more information.
Childress Klein Center for Real Estate
The Childress Klein Center for Real Estate at UNC Charlotte was established to further the knowledge of real estate, public policy and urban economics in the professional community through its teaching, research and community outreach activities. It has been ranked among the 20 most active research institutions in real estate for the past decade.
The Center administers the M.S. in Real Estate program, the MBA concentration and certificate programs in real estate finance and development, and manages programming and outreach to the Real Estate Alumni Association and Real Estate Advisory Board. Visit realestate.uncc.edu for more information.
Charlotte Visualization Center
The Charlotte Visualization Center is a highly interdisciplinary center that applies interactive visualization and visual analytics to a variety of large scale and complex problems in science, engineering, medicine, business, design, and the arts. It was established in January 2005 and includes over 30 faculty members and over 100 graduate and undergraduate students.
The VisCenter faculty is truly interdisciplinary with members from Computer Science, Software and Information Systems, Engineering, English, Geography and Earth Sciences, Architecture, Ethics, and other departments. The VisCenter also has one of the deepest programs anywhere in fundamental visualization, visual analytics, and human-computer interaction research with nine faculty members doing work in these areas. The main VisCenter Lab provides an exciting, state-of-the-art environment for visualization and HCI research and application development with an abundance of advanced displays, interaction devices, and a large, multiscreen stereoscopic projection system. These unique facilities are available for use to all VisCenter faculty and students. In addition, faculty and students enjoy a highly interactive and collaborative environment through the VisCenter seminar series, invited speakers, symposia, workshops, social events, and other activities. Visit viscenter.uncc.edu for more information.
Infrastructure, Design, Environment and Sustainability Center (IDEAS)
The Center’s mission is to contribute to framing the challenges, providing leadership, and creating the solutions that will accelerate the technical and social shifts needed to make our built environment more sustainable.
The IDEAS Center was created to focus university expertise on the challenge of creating and advancing a more sustainable built environment. We believe decision-makers seeking an alternative to “business as usual” need leadership and support from the academic community. Together we need to create, distill, translate, and disseminate technology and guidance documents that will rapidly transform and advance sustainable infrastructure, materials, building and site design innovations and practices. Visit ideas.uncc.edu for more information.
NC Motorsports and Automotive Research Center (NCMARC)
UNC Charlotte Motorsports is located in the heart of NASCAR country and is the first stop for employers hiring interns and entry level engineers. The Center is within 50 miles of 90 percent of the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams and five miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway, just past the checkered flag. The Motorsports program is rigorous and well respected in the automotive and racing industries. They offer one of the most innovative “hands-on” programs available in the U.S., allowing students to be some of the most qualified applicants in motorsports. We insure that our students have the opportunity to learn the theory that will help them on the race track or in automotive design, testing and manufacturing facilities. They are exposed to some of the most well respected professionals in the racing and automotive industries, adding high-level practical experience as a potential part of the training. Visit motorsports.uncc.edu for more information.