Funding Priority

UNC Institute for Convergent Science

Successful universities, both public and private, are engines for innovation - places where basic science meets technology to solve problems for the public good. The UNC Institute for Convergent Science will help Carolina lead in our service to the State and Nation by bringing together innovators from the worlds of science, engineering, art, humanities, design, and business.

Signature Initiatives

    As a leading global public research university bound by 226 years of service to the greater good, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seeks daring solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. The UNC Institute for Convergent Science (ICS) is the next step in realizing those solutions.

    ICS will provide a new Innovation Framework based on a convergent approach to problem-solving, developing new technologies and de-risking to ensure the fastest, most successful path to commercialization. By redefining the journey from idea to proof of concept to market, ICS will enable research teams to focus on solving the problems at hand — collectively at one central hub — with the infrastructure, lab space, expertise and funding needed to drive breakthroughs and create exceptional outcomes.

    The great problems of our time are as vast as they are complex. Deadly diseases, energy shortages, water scarcity and more will not be solved by one discipline, industry or sector alone, but rather by a diverse array of experts. At Carolina, we recognize our unique responsibility and embrace the opportunity to work together to create a better future.

    Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz“Carolina’s more than $1.1 billion research enterprise has made us one of the most innovative universities in the world, and our success is because of Carolina’s unique culture of collaboration. The UNC Institute for Convergent Science is prepared to lead our nation in solving the grand challenges of our time.”
    – Kevin Guskiewicz, Chancellor

    Convergent Science is a problem-centered approach to research that draws together innovators from a large span of disciplines to address real-world issues. These issues — such as water shortage and purification, energy storage and treatments for seemingly incurable diseases — cross disciplines and traditional methods of scientific problem solving.

    By redefining the journey from idea to discovery to market, the Institute will enable research teams to focus on solving the problem at hand — collectively at one central hub — with the infrastructure, lab space and funding needed to drive breakthroughs.

    What is the UNC Institute of Convergent Science?

    The UNC Institute for Convergent Science is, at its very core, about bringing radically multidisciplinary teams together to address society’s most intractable problems. Located in Carolina’s premier science research facility, the UNC Genome Sciences Building, ICS brings the very best commercialization process to the University’s more than $1.1 billion research enterprise.

    UNC Genome Sciences Building
    The science of serendipity

    It is well known that innovative approaches and solutions often result from the serendipitous collision of ideas, research and technologies. The art of convergence is to make this serendipity routine; supporting the long and difficult journey from innovative idea to transformational product, technology or solution. ICS sparks and accelerates the kinds of multidisciplinary collaborations that will enable UNC-Chapel Hill’s global scientific and creative communities to address today’s most complex challenges.

    The Innovation Framework is a novel process through which projects are carefully reviewed and refined until ready to proceed. With the guidance of our eminent innovation experts, NIMBLE projects — “New Invention: Make it Big or Leave Early” — will be subjected to a disciplined schedule and demonstrable milestones with the knowledge that early failure, and a return to the research commons, is as instructive as success. By employing the Innovation Framework the Institute will accelerate the translation of convergent ideas into technological solutions.

    The research commons is open to all and programmed to stimulate problem-based conversations across disciplines. New ideas formed in the commons can become “NIMBLE” projects that receive ICS space and funding to complete a demonstration phase. Demonstrated solutions can leave the ICS by launching into the commercial or non-profit world.

    Success at Carolina

    Carolina’s more than $1.1 billion research enterprise has made us one of the most innovative universities in the world. Our success is due to Carolina’s unique culture of collaboration.

    *Statistics are from Innovate Carolina and include IQVIA
    Best in the world

    According to the latest rankings published by Reuters (October 2019), Carolina is the #6 most innovative university in the world.

    • 1. Stanford University (private)
    • 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (private)
    • 3. Harvard University (private)
    • 4. University of Pennsylvania (private)
    • 5. University of Washington (public)
    • 6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • 7. KU Leuven (Belgium)
    • 8. University of Southern California (private)
    • 9. Cornell University (private)
    • 10. Imperial College London (UK)

    What will it take to move ICS forward?

    It will require the resources to match the scale of our ambitions. The UNC Institute for Convergent Science is the epitome of Carolina’s mission. Join us in creating a better world for all by supporting the UNC Institute for Convergent Science.

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