North Carolina Spaces for Innovation Challenge



Where does innovation happen best?

The Competition is closed.  See the list of our finalists here.

Increasingly, cutting-edge innovation is happening in special ‘spaces for innovation.’ These are spaces that have emerged organically or were specifically designed to foster innovation in exciting new ways.Examples abound in North Carolina communities, urban and rural, large and small.

IEI featured the winning space for innovation prominently at our 30th Annual Emerging Issues Forum, “Innovation Reconstructed,” set for February 9-10, 2015, at the Raleigh Convention Center. The Forum brought leaders and learners from every North Carolina sector, region, and point of view together to discuss and debate how our companies and communities will innovate to compete in a future of accelerating everything.

Innovation thrives when people, organizations, and cultures come together and mix things up, often in the context of supportive policies and programs. Thriving centers of innovation take different forms. Most feature a critical density of ideas, people, and resources. Proximity tends to correlate positively to enhanced innovation capacity, but the interplay of physical location, virtual connections, and innovation is complex.

Do you know of a great space for innovation in North Carolina?

Share your story! Nominating your favorite space for innovation is easy:

Step 1: Eligibility:

Any individual, group, or organization (even if not directly involved in the space) can nominate a space for innovation.

A qualifying “space for innovation” can be new, long-existing, or evolving (or even just merely envisioned, though there should be a goal of implementation); physical, virtual, or some of both; and its sponsorship can be private, public, nonprofit, or any combination. Whatever the model, sparking innovation should be the goal. The space must be located in North Carolina or, if entirely virtual, must have active North Carolina contributors.

Step 2: How to Apply: 

Create a profile in our Emerging Issues Commons. Apply here and in no more than 400 words, describe your space for innovation. Tell your story however you think best. You will likely need to describe:

  • Model, goals, timeline
  • Who’s driving the effort
  • The shape, whatever it happens to be, of your space for innovation
  • Key human, collaborative, economic, physical, technological, and virtual assets
  • Achievements to date
  • What Forum participants stand to gain from studying this model

[Submissions were closed at 11:59p ET on December 8, 2014.]

Step 3: Selection Process:

Our 2015 Forum Working Group will review submissions (including Commons comments and ratings) and select up to five finalists. All finalists receive one complimentary Forum ticket.

Not later than January 14, 2015, each finalist must create a short (two- to three-minute) video describing the space for innovation. After posting finalist videos to the Emerging Issues Commons website, IEI will administer an online public vote January 19-30, 2015, to determine the winning space for innovation.

Step 4: Winning Space Featured at the Forum!

The winning space for innovation will be featured at the 30th Annual Emerging Issues Forum. We’ll invite a representative to highlight the space of innovation before our Convention Center participants and livestream viewers worldwide.

Don’t miss this chance to share your story about an emerging space of innovation in North Carolina!

Questions? For inquiries concerning IEI’s “North Carolina’s Spaces for Innovation” Challenge, contact Sarah Langer, Policy Manager,, 919-513-2800.