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The public is invited this week to tour Launch Chapel Hill and meet the people behind downtown’s first startup accelerator to support the launch of entrepreneurial companies.

An open house will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, at 321 W. Rosemary St. A ribbon cutting is set for 4:30 p.m. with a reception to follow.

Serial entrepreneur Dina Mills will lead Launch Chapel Hill. The sixteen startups selected as resident teams offer such products and services as acoustics software for architects and engineers, new technologies for portable glucose, a waterless solution to the international health sanitation crises and a gluten-free line of baked goods targeted to local restaurants.

“It’s so critical for our community to have a place where talent from the University and the local area can work and get the mentoring and business support they need, right here in Chapel Hill,” Mills says.

Startup teams are already moving in, and Mills has begun assessing what it will take to make them successful. Mills brings experience starting several companies while living in Poland for nearly a decade, and most recently as a co-founder of LunaPops, the artisan frozen dessert available in Whole Foods markets across the region.

Launch Chapel Hill offers its resident teams a place to work on their business, training events and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs who bring industry and fundraising contacts. Students from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School will serve as consultants and potentially as members of venture teams as they scale.

“We’re plugging in all the elements of our robust entrepreneurship ecosystem here at the Kenan Institute, UNC Kenan-Flagler and Carolina to help these ventures seeking opportunities to grow,” said Ted Zoller, director of UNC’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

The project is a unique cooperative investment of UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill, Orange County, the Downtown Chapel Hill Partnership and a private donor, the Becker family, who provided initial funding in memory of their daughter, Cara Becker. The 3,500-square-foot space in the heart of Chapel Hill was previously the home of local marketing agency 3 Birds, which is also backing the project. Flexible, contemporary workspaces were donated by Triangle Office Equipment.

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Published April 30, 2013.