North Central launches its own startup: new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE)

May 02, 2016

The College’s new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) isn’t just another business center.

“We’re dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation in every field, not just traditional business disciplines,” explains Martha Carney, the Center’s executive director. “We’re going to be integrated into every discipline—sports, arts, STEM, history, business, everything.”

Carney comes to North Central with extensive experience mentoring entrepreneurs and launching business startups as former director of the College of DuPage’s Small Business Development Center. Also an entrepreneur herself, she is the founder of Outsourced Innovation, Inc., a research firm that helps clients realize the benefits of clean energy technologies.

“Martha will build a vital connection between the College and the regional startup community,” says President Troy Hammond. “I’m very excited about the opportunities for students, faculty and the local community that will result.”

Based in the Rall House on North Central’s campus, the CIE is a bridge to the business community and has three main roles:

•    First, it will support faculty as they incorporate real-world applications into coursework, recognizing that employers from every sector expect new employees to demonstrate creativity and leadership skills from Day One. “Students of all majors need to know how to take an idea and run with it: Turn it into a project, fundraise for it, run a business,” Carney says. “This type of program can help increase the ROI on their education.”

•    Second, the CIE will forge connections among local small businesses, students and the College at large. It will offer one-on-one coaching and mentoring to entrepreneurs with a concentration on alumni. The CIE will offer practical workshops on topics, including how to get a startup in motion, craft business plans, become investor ready and use social media. Seminars will be geared to the business community and also will be open to students who want to complement their degrees and network. “It will give students one more way to round out their education by becoming immersed in the entrepreneurial mindset as they transition into the workforce,” says Carney.

•    Third, the Center will take its work directly to downtown Naperville—literally. A renovated space will serve as a business accelerator at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Washington Street. Clients can rent “coworking” space, set up a business, access CIE coaching, share resources and gain more exposure to potential customers.

The Center is expected to have a positive impact on the local economy by helping to create and keep local jobs. “We can launch and support businesses in all sorts of ways, whether we’re turning student ideas into realities, mentoring a venture for growth, or interfacing science and business to bring new ideas to market,” says Carney.

On May 21, the Center will celebrate its official opening with an all-day conference, Ideas to Profits, in the Wentz Concert Hall. Ideas to Profits offers a variety of business courses and business pitch contest with a chance to win $5,000 and entrance into the business accelerator. For more information email