Carolina Graduate Certificate in Innovation for the Public Good

Equip yourself with the modern change-making mindset, methods, and tools to be effective in working across sectors and disciplines to solve complex, economic, social, and ecological problems.   Three of the certificate’s courses, including the required core course Design Thinking for the Public Good, are housed in Gillings.

Design Thinking for the Public Good (HBEH 748) 
Design Thinking for the Public Good (HBEH 748) trains an interdisciplinary group of graduate students to apply the mindsets, methods, and processes associated with design thinking (i.e. human-centered design) to solve real-world problems. Design thinking is a creative problem-solving process that prioritizes ethnographic market research, convergent and divergent thinking, as well as rapid prototyping. Students will collaborate with community members to design solutions (products, services, etc.) that are desirable, feasible, and viable. For more information, contact the course instructor Dr. Liz Chen.

Public Health Entrepreneurship (SPHG 428H) 
Public Health Entrepreneurship (SPHG 428H) provides an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to learn how entrepreneurial approaches can be applied to public health challenges. The class also develops entrepreneurial problem-solving skills. For more information, contact the course instructor, Dr. Alice Ammerman.

Systems Thinking/Collective Impact (HPM 966) 
Systems Thinking/Collective Impact (HPM 966) has two parts, both focused on applying practical, structured systems thinking approaches to improve care, service delivery systems, policy, and/or environments in which we live. This first part of the course is person-centered applying systems thinking tools to understand individuals’ experiences as the foundation for driving change. For more information, contact the course instructor Dr. Kristen Hassmiller Lich.


  • E(I) Lab (students) – The E(I) Lab is a six-month-long experiential program that will bring together graduate students, professional students and postdocs from diverse disciplines across UNC to conceive, develop and test innovative solutions to unmet needs in healthcare. Bring your critical thinking skill set and your interest to work in a cross-disciplinary way!
  • Gillings Entrepreneurs of Color Mentorship Program (students) – Budding student entrepreneurs of color are paired with entrepreneurial mentors in this 4-month program offered each spring.  Mentors and mentees meet at least once per month to discuss their entrepreneurial goals and broaden their networks.  All students welcome! Read More.
  • Gillings School Pitch Competition (students) – Offered every other year, this competition and learning experience allows student venture teams to pitch to a live panel of judges a service or product which addresses a public health with a viable solution. Teams are paired with entrepreneurial coaches to help them refine their pitches in the weeks leading up to the competition. Read More.
  • Launch Chapel Hill Summer Accelerator (students) 10-week summer accelerator program for undergraduate or graduate student innovators interested in advancing their venture through deep learning and mentorship from the Launch Chapel Hill team. Participating ventures are awarded a small stipend.
  • MOTRD UP (students) – Mechanisms of Translation, Realizing Discovery and Understanding the Pipeline (TL1 program). This 1-2 year fellowship experience for postdoctoral scientists focuses on the actual translation of research products into entrepreneurship and commercialization (EC), health systems (HS), and clinical trials/regulatory (CTR). Applicants should apply when they have a product/idea/research finding that is ready to move to the next translational stage. For example, laboratory discoveries leading to preparation of a regulatory application to the FDA, data that is ready to support a clinical trial, or a discovery that will move to dissemination across a health system.
  • Map the System Competition (students) – Map the System is a global competition focused on exploring the wider context of social and environmental issues, co-sponsored by Innovate Carolina and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. The UNC final competition includes cash prizes for current UNC students and the winning team will compete in a semi-regional final competition. One team from the semi-regional finals will be chosen to attend a global summit.
  • The Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship (students) – An undergraduate minor for the problem-solver, the creator, the agent for social change. Students come from different walks of life, a spectrum of perspectives, and can be pursuing any major on campus.
  • Startup UNC (faculty and students) – a ventures course design to help students, faculty, staff, and alumni develop a business idea or scientific innovation into a high-growth company.
  • Venture Catalyst Program (faculty and students) – The Venture Catalyst Program is a collaboration between Innovate Carolina and KickStart Venture Services that allows the leaders of UNC-affiliated startups, serial entrepreneur coaches and talented graduate students to converge and collaborate.
  • First in Venture Studio  (faculty and students) – The Eshelman Institute is working across campus to improve patient care by commercializing UNC’s digital health research through novel new translation, and startup creation approaches. In partnership with the University of North Carolina, UNC Health, and High Alpha Innovation, the Eshelman Institute spearheaded the creation of First In Digital Studio. The Studio was formed to create, fund, and build software forward, advantaged startups in digital health, based out of UNC-Chapel Hill. They build solutions through software-driven business models that fall into one of these digital health technologies: Enterprise Systems & Support, Clinician Services & Support, Patient-Facing Wellness & Support, Patient-Facing Diagnostic & Monitoring, and Patient-Facing Therapeutic Interventions.
  • I-Corps (faculty) – The NSF I-Corps program provides real-world training to help innovators gain insight into the customer discovery process. The 2-week virtual program provides an immersive learning experience that allows researchers to better understand the market potential of their innovations

135 Dauer Drive
104 Rosenau Hall, CB #7415
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7415
(919) 843-3945