Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
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About the Kenan Institute


Fundamental to our belief in a free society is an economic system described as “free enterprise” which is dependent upon individual initiative. This encompasses social and ethical standards derived from this system and embodied in a democratic society.

The Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise fosters mutual understanding and appreciation between members of the private enterprise sector, the academic community, and their government, and to encourage cooperative efforts among these groups.

The Kenan Institute serves these communities as a national center for scholarly research, joint exploration of issues, and course development all associated with the principal theme of preservation, encouragement, and understanding of private enterprise.

Organization and Operations

The Kenan Institute is part of Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and draw’s on the School’s administrative and faculty resources. It offers a number of programs conferences and seminars which bring together the business and academic communities at both the state and national levels.

The Institute works in conjunction with affiliated centers to provide an ongoing forum for information and interaction between business and academia. The Institute involves scholars and executives from across the nation who, having increased their mutual understanding, can work effectively together for the good of the free enterprise system.

Through its education and research activities, the Institute will provide practical solutions to problems faced by private enterprise, contribute to shaping business school curricula, and foster an appreciation of private enterprise in other academic fields from which future generations of business, academic and government leaders will emerge.

Centers and Activities

Center for Digital Enterprise & Innovation works with large and small private companies, public organizations, and government agencies to navigate the digital revolution that is transforming how the world conducts business. The Center is at the forefront of this transformation. Its mission is straightforward: to help its clients and partners take advantage of new digital technologies and leverage the constant flow of data generated by these technologies in creative and innovative ways.

Center of Sport Business is a premiere academic institute for engaged scholarship of sport business. Under the leadership of Dr. Deborah Stroman, the Center seeks to align with, create, and identify unique opportunities for the improvement and understanding of the vast sport industry. This $350B+ industry that has truly captivated our society - from small rural towns to major urban centers - integrates with virtually every aspect of the economy including advertising, construction, education, entertainment, equipment, finance, food services, manufacturing, media, real estate, retail, technology, and transportation. The Center's applied work focuses on hosting special events, including the nationally-recognized Basketball Analytics Summit, the Carolina Sport Court (a sports "shark tank"), a Speakers Series, and the Global Sports Mentoring Program in partnership with the State Department and ESPNw. The research domain is engaged in the analysis of the social and economic impact of sport in the entire state of North Carolina.

NCGrowth was founded in 2012 to help North Carolina businesses create good jobs and to help communities create sustainable and equitable opportunities for their people. NCGrowth leverages relationships with community and academic partners to support strategic economic development planning in economically struggling regions. NCGrowth conducts applied research and analysis on a broad array of economic trends including sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, incentive policies. NCGrowth also provides technical assistance to high growth companies.

UNC Center for Competitive Economies is an institutional research Center created and funded by the University of North Carolina in 2004 with a specified mission “to bring the considerable intellectual resources of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to bear on economic development problems in North Carolina, the southeast, the United States, and the world.” The Center performs public service and client-sponsored economic research on local, state, national, and international economic issues. Its primary focus is analysis of economic development challenges and opportunities for the citizens of the State of North Carolina. Over the past six years, the Center Director and staff have been Principal Investigators on 40 applied economic research projects with non-profits, local, and state governments, and the North Carolina General Assembly.

Urban Investment Strategies Center & Competitive Economies Idea Lab pursues three sets of activities: (1) building an elder care economy innovations hub, (2) producing research reports for consulting clients, and (3) facilitating leadership/strategy development for its clients. Key to the Center's work is helping North Carolina nurture and grow an innovation economy, conscious of and with concerted efforts to be more inclusive of people of color and women, that will likely yield big socioeconomic dividends.

Technology Commercialization Carolina (TCC) provides support for North Carolina’s innovators and inventors through commercialization and entrepreneurship training, early stage venture launch support and funding. Among the many services available through the TCC are patent landscaping, market & funding opportunity research, startup consulting, entrepreneur technical assistance program (E-TAP), and commercialization and entrepreneurship training and workshops.