Business Insider once named Raleigh as one of the “fastest-growing startup scenes in the U.S.” To date, there are easily hundreds of startup companies and fast-track organizations all poised for long-term growth and sustainable success. So for entrepreneurs and inventors in Raleigh, NC, there’s no better place to start. What’s more, there are plenty of local and online resources to help inventors through the development process and prepare for the execution phase. We’ve listed the top 13, here.
What started as a land-grant institution grounded in engineering and agriculture is now one of the state’s leading public research universities—a powerhouse in science, technology, math, and engineering. NC State University is at the forefront of teaching and research in multiple disciplines; design, social sciences, you name it. It also houses one of the country’s best colleges of veterinary medicine.
NC State is also recognized as a research and economic engine for North Carolina. The Office of Research and Commercialization (ORC) plays a crucial part in fulfilling this role. Aside from protecting and promoting University research and IP best practices, the NC State ORC also works with industry partners, promotes startup acceleration, and facilitates the commercialization of research discoveries.
They also have a full Resource for Inventors page that includes plenty of links to necessary documents that all inventors need: Confidentiality & Material Transfer Agreements, Templates, Consulting Policies, and Patent Agreements, to name a few.
Nonprofits & Databases for Inventors
This nonprofit organization is yet another highly-recommended database that all Raleigh, NC inventors must visit. The United Inventors Association (UIA) of the United States of America is dedicated to providing people with the most updated information regarding inventor processes, guidelines, news, events, patent costs, trade shows, and local opportunities. They also actively encourage honest business practices and ethical operations amongst industry providers.
As an organization and online database, the UIA offers rich content for both members and non-members—all of which are accessible on their website. Membership is encouraged to get the full benefits of what they have to offer, but simply visiting their website and scouring their pages should give you plenty of help regarding the next steps you need to take.
You can find their Resource Page here.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a federal agency that tracks and monitors all registered patents, trademarks, inventions, and other intellectual properties in the U.S. For certified inventors, the USPTO also protects their legal rights and claims.
Under the USPTO is the Office of Innovation Development (OID). This department provides independent inventors with current information regarding the documents, certifications, consultations, and processes they need to know. They cover a myriad of topics that any Raleigh inventor will find useful. For instance; the difference between patents and trademarks—and which one you should apply for.
Check out their full Learning & Resources page here.
InventHelp is an organization that has been helping connect inventors to legitimate, promising opportunities for the past 36 years. Their forte lies in guiding both professional and amateur inventors throughout the submission process, providing valuable intelligence and resources along the way.
InventHelp’s speciality lies in helping inventors prepare their idea for submission, thereby improving their chances of approval. This includes compiling general information about the invention, writing the invention literature, sourcing a list of companies that would be interested in the product, and obtaining confidentiality agreements from said companies.
InventHelp is 100% transparent with all their clients. They make no promises regarding profits or royalties, and they’re very clear on what they can and can’t do for inventors. For instance, they can’t confirm whether your idea is patentable or not, but they can refer you to the best patent attorneys in Raleigh, NC.
They have been featured on reputable media outlets such as Forbes and The New York Times as an established “leading inventor service company” with a spotless reputation. You can find a more detailed review of InventHelp here.
Bold Patents is an online specialist organization for inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs with legal concerns regarding intellectual property. Dedicated to helping individuals protect their creative ideas—and potentially profit from them—Bold Patents offers legal guidance and verified referrals for patents, trademarks, securing patent licenses, and other IP issues.
Their branch in Raleigh, NC, is dedicated to serving innovators, industry leaders, and creative individuals who are motivated to start change and constantly surpass societal limits. They’re ready to help local inventors conduct thorough market and patentability searches, covering worldwide competitors and potential audiences alike.
If you’re looking for practical, professional advice on protecting your ideas—and how best to financially benefit from them—Bold Patents may be the company you’re looking for. You can access an overview of their free resources on this page.
The Inventors Network of the Carolinas (INTC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing inventors with the education, support, and networking opportunities they need to turn creative concepts into sellable products. They, as a collective, believe that education is the best tool inventors and innovators have to protect their intellectual property.
INTC is a self-styled “super group” that connects local inventors with professional business resources that can both guide and inspire them throughout their invention process, consequently opening up avenues for successful commercial ventures. They also happen to be a recognized member of the UIA.
INTC hosts monthly sponsored events that Raleigh inventors may find incredibly useful for engaging with other like-minded creative and building up their network. These meetings are open to members and paying guests, and they range from beginner/introductory sessions to more comprehensive and advanced meetings.
Their goals are, basically:
- To educate inventors on the financially successful idea-invention-product cycle
- To help inventors avoid scams/losing scenarios where they aren’t fairly compensated for their ideas and/or services
- To ensure that inventors’ products are marketed in a way that is financially successful
- To make sure inventors are financially rewarded for their intellectual property
- To have successful inventors give back to the INTC group and community through coaching and/or mentoring
They also have a fairly extensive resource page that all visitors can access.
Organizations & Databases for Entrepreneurs
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is one of the most extensive digital databases available to all U.S. inventors. As an inventor or innovator in Raleigh, NC, you’d have access to all the relevant information you’d need to aid your startup-to-production journey.
The SBA website hosts articles, beginner-friendly contracting tutorials, and links to official paperwork needed—like licenses, certificates, patent submission forms, and the like. You can also find legal guidelines on important procedures such as securing the correct permits for operation or avoiding copyright infringement on their page, too.
Make sure to check out the following categories while you’re there:
- Business Guide
- Funding Programs
- Federal Contracting
- Learning Center
- Local Assistance
They also have a full page dedicated to their funding programs.
Part of the Office of Economic Development and Innovation, the Raleigh .gov page has a small business resource page that serves as the government’s support for local “small, minority and women-owned businesses.” They connect these organizations to the best possible resources that will help them thrive. Apart from a small business resource guide (which you can access here), Raleigh Small Business Support has a number of services that inventors and entrepreneurs in Raleigh, NC may find extremely useful. These are:
- Build Up-fit Grant – grants and funding
- Business Disaster Recovery Tools – business tools
- Economic Development Alliances – business tools
- Façade Rehabilitation Grant Program – grants and funding
- Business Accelerators – business tools
Venture Capital Funds and Banks – business tools
—just to name a few. You can find the full list of resources here, too.
Carolina Small Business is a nonprofit organization and certified community development financial institution (CDFI) that is dedicated to supporting small local businesses all over Carolina. Founded in 1990, the original goal was to promote economic opportunity for all. 30 years later, Carolina Small Business continues to support the local economy and startup scene by providing loans, training, and research support for entrepreneurs.
Their vision remains; to create economic opportunity for all. Their mission? They aim to aid underserved communities by providing the necessary capital, services, and policy research their small businesses need, thereby fostering sustainable economic development.
Self-proclaimed “dream catchers,” Carolina Small Business also defines their organization with four concepts:
- Partner—fostering partnership through loans and personal aid
- Accessible Funding Resource—providing capital to bridge a critical gap between innovators and funding access
- Trusted Business Guide—offering tools and services that entrepreneurs need to succeed
- Small Business Advocate—their ongoing policy and research work ensures the quality of their certified programs and mentoring
You can find more details about their Programs & Services on their website.
As the nation’s “largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors,” SCORE is an 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping startups find the footing, momentum, and resources they need to achieve fast, sustainable growth. Founded in 1964, SCORE has proudly provided education and mentorship to over 11 million entrepreneurs all across the country.
As a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE is able to deliver most of their prime services at no cost. The selfless work of over 10,000 dedicated volunteers also makes this possible.
The Raleigh chapter of SCORE is dedicated to educating innovators and entrepreneurs in Raleigh, NC regarding the tools and strategies they need to optimize their business for success. By providing free counseling and low-cost education workshops for startups and small businesses in Raleigh, SCORE hopes to encourage more game changers and industry leaders to actively pursue entrepreneurial expansion. In doing so, they continue to contribute to the growth of the local economy.
The Raleigh SCORE website also has an incredibly extensive resource library that you can easily access.
North Carolina’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) is an institution committed to “providing knowledge, education and other supportive resources” for existing and emerging small businesses. These resources are all optimized to help these business owners and local entrepreneurs achieve success in and through their innovations.
Thanks to the experience and skill of dedicated staff and partners across a statewide network, the SBTDC is able to efficiently help and serve a diverse client base—all with unique, varying needs.
Founded in 1984, the SBTDC now operates 10 regional service centers in 15 total offices. The lead center is located in Raleigh, NC, the SBTDC operates as a single statewide program, making it one of the most fully integrated SBDC programs in the country. It also prides itself on being one of the most active institutes engaged in the state’s development of its economic infrastructure.
In a nutshell, here’s what the SBTDC can provide entrepreneurs in Raleigh:
- Small Business Expertise
- Training & Education
- Assistance for Communities & Economic Developers
- Leveraged University Resources
- Strong Partnerships
Home to Raleigh, the state capital, and the largest county in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, Wake County is one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions. It also offers an ideal blend of cost, comfort, and culture—a perfect environment for startups and small businesses to thrive. In fact, Wake County is home to a wide range of businesses, from Fortune 500 giants to small and medium-sized corporations. This is due to their focus on smart, equitable local economic growth, and their drive to establish a community that offers opportunities for all.
One of their services worth noting is their Innovation Ecosystem, under which is their Incubators & Accelerators list. If you’re an entrepreneur or inventor in Raleigh, NC, you’ll definitely want to familiarize yourself with all the innovation hubs, accelerator programs, and local resources that they’ve listed here. They also have a separate page for Research Parks that may interest local inventors.
Established in 2006, NC IDEA is a thriving private foundation dedicated to maximizing the economic potential of North Carolina locals. They achieve this by finding high-growth entrepreneurial endeavors and giving them the tools to optimize sustainable success.
NC IDEA started out by offering seed grants specifically for young technology companies. They have since expanded their ambition to support a broader entrepreneurial ecosystem by offering competitive grants and programs to a diverse group of organizations at all stages of business development.
For the community, NC IDEA nurtures the local economy by contributing to statewide innovation and entrepreneurial advancement. For investors, they build trust funds and ensure long-term sustainability. For entrepreneurs, they offer grants, programs, and verified support.
Armed with current correct information and a sufficient amount of support, most any inventor and entrepreneur can make it big. It’s all a matter of knowing when, where, and how to strike. Hopefully you find one of these 13 resources extremely helpful on your journey as an inventor.
- NC State University, ORC
- UIA of the USA
- United States Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO)
- InventHelp, Raleigh
- Bold Patents, Raleigh
- Inventors Network of the Carolinas (INTC)
- US Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Raleigh Small Business Support
- Carolina Small Business
- Raleigh SCORE
- North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC)
- Wake County Innovation Ecosystem
- NC IDEA
If you know of a great Raleigh, NC resource for inventors that we’ve missed, let us know in the comments below!