Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Raleigh, NC


As one of the principal cities of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, Raleigh is a major hub of innovation and research. WalletHub’s 2018 list of the best large cities to start a small business ranked Raleigh 10th overall.

Raleigh, NC, known as the City of Oaks, is the state’s capital and second-largest city. As one of the principal cities of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, Raleigh is a major hub of innovation and research. WalletHub’s 2018 list of the best large cities to start a small business ranked Raleigh 10th overall, while the nearby Durham, also part of the Research Triangle, finished fifth on the same list. Another list by WalletHub listed Raleigh as the 22nd-best metro area for STEM professionals, while a third had the city as the 56th-best for Hispanic entrepreneurs, including a ranking of 23 in the “Hispanic Purchasing Power” category.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Raleigh’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Dream Link is a group designed to be a network and support system that helps female entrepreneurs create their dream businesses.

While not explicitly aimed at entrepreneurs, The Raleigh-Durham Web Design Group is open to anyone with web-related problems or interests, including those in the business world.

One of the largest entrepreneurial groups in the area, Raleigh Entrepreneurs Organization provides education, motivation, and networking opportunities to members.

This group is designed to give women business owners and entrepreneurs support and the opportunity to learn from one another.

Raleigh is home to one branch of Tech Talent South, an organization that aims to develop tech talent in the southern United States by hosting educational programs.

The Triangle Entrepreneurial Leadership Meetup aims to create a culture of collaboration by educating and creating networks of leaders in the entrepreneurial community.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Held annually in Raleigh, All Things Open is one of the nation’s biggest conferences for “open” technology, drawing major figures in the tech world.

One of the biggest conferences for technology entrepreneurship in the southeast, the CED Tech Venture Conference gives entrepreneurs and opportunity to learn, showcase, and network.

Entrepreneurial People in Christ is a two-day conference that aims to train and educate entrepreneurs and business leaders to find success in the business and personal worlds.

Innovate Raleigh, which supports entrepreneurs in the Raleigh area, hosts events including the annual Innovate Raleigh Summit, an celebration and networking opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Techstars hosts Startup Weekend events regularly in Durham and the larger Research Triangle area as a whole.


Startup Competitions:

The annual All Things Open conference recently added a competition in which selected teams get the chance to pitch their startups to a panel of VCs, CEOs, and other important figures.

Students and recent alumni of the University of North Carolina can compete in the university’s annual startup competition.

Duke University’s annual startup competition features a category for students and one for alumni, faculty, and staff.

Every year, North Carolina State University hosts the Lulu eGames, a huge startup competition with six categories that students can enter.


Co-working Spaces:

As one of 12 Google for Entrepreneurs hubs around the nation, American Underground’s four locations offer flexible membership plans and access to valuable networks and resources.

BLDG Co. is a co-working space that offers reserved desks or more traditional “floating workspace” options to individuals building conscious organizations.

HQ has three Raleigh locations and one in nearby Greensboro, all of which offer flexible membership plans and a variety of amenities.

Industrious’ Raleigh location is a LEED-Platinum certified building that has a workspace for teams ranging in size from one to six or more.

In addition to co-working space and private offices, Loading Dock offers warehouse space for companies that need space to store materials or prepare things to ship.

Nest offers its members a number of amenities, including a full kitchen, coffee and beer on-site, and high-speed fiber wifi.


Maker spaces:

The Maker’s Space offers three membership levels for access to a wide variety of tools, workspaces, and educational classes.

Students at NC State can have access to the 3D printers and makerspaces in both the D.H. Hill and James B. Hunt Jr. libraries.

Located in nearby Durham, Splat Space has a wide variety of tools and equipment available and hosts regular events and workshops.



Located in Research Triangle Park, the First Flight Venture Center is an incubator that has several different programs to meet the specific needs of early-stage science startups.

Unlike most university-based incubators, NC State’s Incubator @ Centennial Campus is open to everyone in the community.

NC IDEA is a private foundation that organizes a number of programs to help support entrepreneurship and business in the area.

The Pinkubator is a program that supports women-led or women-focused startups with an individualized support that focuses on the founders.

Incubators & Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?



As the name suggests AgTech Accelerator is an accelerator program that works with promising agriculture technology startups.

The Innovators Program is a unique 12-week accelerator the provides founders and internal innovators with support and up to $20,000 in funding.

Powered by Techstars, the MetLife Digital Accelerator works with startups that are innovating the insurance industry.

Triangle Startup Factory runs a three-month accelerator program for early-stage technology startups that includes $50,000 of capital given to members.



Students at Duke have access to resources both in and out of the classroom that can support their entrepreneurial careers.

NC State offers a variety of resources to support entrepreneurship both among students and in the community as a whole.

UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School includes a Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, which offers classes and concentrations in entrepreneurship to graduate and undergraduate students alike.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Based in Durham, BCVP is a venture capital firm that invests between $250,000 and $2 million in promising early-stage software and internet companies.

Duke Angel Network partners with US-based startups that have a founder or executive with a connection to Duke University.

Excelerate Health Ventures is a venture firm that invests in and supports healthcare startups, especially those in the early stages.

Hatteras invests in promising startups in the biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, healthcare IT, and related sectors.

IDEA Fund Partners invests in early-stage companies in the software, IT infrastructure, materials technologies, and medical devices and diagnostics industries located around the southeast.

RTP Capital is an angel network that focuses on seed- and early-stage technology startups around the southeast, especially in the Research Triangle area.

TAP is a Raleigh-based Angel fund that invests in high-potential startups located within a half day’s drive of Research Triangle Park.

A Glimpse Into Thinking Like an Angel Investor


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Business North Carolina’s Daily Digest is a daily newsletter of the biggest and most important business stories from around the state.

The Business Journal arm that covers news in the Research Triangle offers a number of newsletters to help keep subscribers aware.

WRAL TechWire covers technology news in the Research Triangle area and offers a twice-daily newsletter containing the biggest headlines.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Raleigh not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.