Projects Awarded

CRFE Study: Mapping the Ecosystem

This detailed study, commissioned by the newly-created CRFE, surveyed over 50 representatives of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem for insights into the long-term growth of entrepreneurship in the region. Mapping the Ecosystem also made recommendations for the governance and purpose of the CRFE and its grant-making.

In 2013 the newly created CRFE commissioned a study of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem called Mapping the Ecosystem. The study:

  • Included a qualitative survey with over 50 representatives of the entrepreneurial ecosystem (entrepreneurs, support organizations, educational institutions, government and more) for key insights into the local environment, and to identify infrastructure gaps that the CRFE could help strengthen
  • Created a map identifying all the components in the regional ecosystem
  • Identified major gaps in ecosystem infrastructure
  • Made recommendations for structure, organization and governance of CRFE’s grant making operations


Additionally the study:

  • Evaluated “best practices” in national, state and local programs serving entrepreneurs
  • Reviewed a broad range of literature to identify current thinking, trends, best practices in the area of entrepreneurship and related areas of innovation, education and economic development
  • Researched the region’s industry clusters, and identified strategies for helping business grow by providing clusters with support


Using the study’s recommendations, the CRFE was born as a non-profit corporation in 2013, and housed at the Foundation For The Carolinas. Download the study here.

Charlotte Entrepreneurial Growth Index Report (2015)

As the first systematic effort to measure Charlotte’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, the Charlotte Entrepreneurial Growth Index Report also will be the CRFE’s first funded project. The report will assess the region’s entrepreneurial competitiveness in comparison to North and South Carolina’s major metro areas as well as peer markets including Atlanta, Austin, Kansas City, Nashville, San Francisco and Tampa. The report will provide an objective measure of the health of the entrepreneurial community, as well as an approach and methodology for measuring on-going improvements in the ecosystem. Charlotte is believed to be one of a few regions in the nation addressing its entrepreneurial capabilities in such a systemic and fact-based manner.

Southeast Venture Conference, The Digital Summit and the Charlotte Venture Challenge (2015)

A trio of events will be held concurrently in 2015 with the help of significant sponsorship by the CRFE:

  • The Southeast Venture Conference ( is the South’s largest venture capital conference, showcasing over 50 high-growth, innovation companies to the investment community.
  • The Digital Summit ( is a digital marketing conference with guest speakers from renowned technology companies.
  • The Charlotte Venture Challenge (CVC), ( organized by UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Research Institute and Ventureprise, is in its 14th year as the premiere start-up competition in the Southeast, attracting over 200 start-up companies in the last two years.