Start Me Up: Donation Will ‘Accelerate’ Student Startups

Lyn and Chip Andrews donate $1 million to establish the NC State Acceleration Fund. Photo by Marc Hall.

A generous gift from alumnus Robert “Chip” F. Andrews III and his wife Lyn will establish a North Carolina State University fund to provide solid support for budding student entrepreneurs.

The $1 million commitment will create the NC State Acceleration Fund, which will award grants annually to student startup companies.

Juniors, seniors and graduate students, as well as recent graduates, from any curriculum at NC State are eligible to apply. For this first year, a committee will interview five finalists and award one or more grants; a total of $50,000 will be distributed. The first grant recipients will be announced later this spring.

In addition to the funding, a critical component of the new effort will be a three-month “boot camp” that grant recipients must complete. Through this Andrews Launch Accelerator program, students will receive educational and coaching support from successful local entrepreneurs; some pro bono legal, accounting and talent acquisition services; and office space.

Chip Andrews, who earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from NC State in 1966 and is a current member of the university’s Board of Trustees, said the gift is designed to encourage young people and spur economic development. Andrews is the retired former chairman and CEO of FMI Corporation, and current managing member of Andrews Ventures LLC, which manages real estate and venture capital investments.

“There are many deserving students who have really great ideas and don’t know how to implement them or don’t have the opportunity. Those of us who have had some success may have a lot to offer and share as investors and mentors,” he said. “That’s all about giving back – the desire to give back to NC State and to the next generation of students. That certainly matters a great deal to me.

“Then there’s the state of North Carolina. North Carolina is in a highly competitive situation with other states, in terms of starting new businesses and growing economic opportunity and jobs.”

The grants program will be administered through the fast-growing NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic based in the Poole College of Management. Interested NC State start-up companies can learn more about how to apply for grant funding on the Entrepreneurship Clinic’s website.

Ira R. Weiss, dean of the college and Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. chair, praised Chip Andrews’ volunteer role in the clinic’s success and thanked the couple for setting an example.

“Private support is critical for NC State to be competitive. This gift from Chip and Lyn Andrews is an investment in our future, the kind of investment that drives Think and Do – the hands-on innovation that NC State personifies,” Weiss said. “Their gift is an endorsement of the remarkable momentum we are experiencing at NC State with the growth and maturation of our entrepreneurship curriculum.”

Chip and Lyn Andrews encourage other donors to contribute to the new fund. As the Acceleration Fund grows, the number and amount of grants can grow.

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