Diane Durance Leaving CIE Post; UNCW To Conduct Search For New Director

By Johanna Cano, posted Aug 2, 2021
Diane Durance
After serving the local entrepreneurship community for the past five years, Diane Durance is leaving her role as director of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, according to an announcement Monday from UNCW.
Durance will return to Michigan, where she previously lived and also worked with entrepreneurs before coming to Wilmington for the CIE position.
In her new job with a group of “angel investors,” she will help entrepreneurs start their businesses on solid footing, the announcement stated. Her last day is Aug. 13.
The university will conduct a national search for a new director, with the selection of an interim director and details about the search to be announced later.
“Under her leadership, the CIE greatly expanded its mission and footprint, building a mentor network for entrepreneurs and startups, bringing together support groups to better serve entrepreneurs and helping to build a local Blue Economy network,” the release stated.
“One of Diane’s huge impacts has been to help grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Stuart Borrett, associate provost for research, innovation and commercialization, said in the announcement. “The greater Wilmington region is different than it was five years ago, and Diane’s work has a lot to do with that. The university will miss her energy and creativity.”
Durance became director in June 2016 when she noted in an interview at the time that the prospect of heading the CIE was “very exciting to her” and that she hoped to continue building relationships to garner participation from the community and university.
During her time as director, her role included connecting more than 100 early-stage student-, faculty- and community-led ventures with resources to help with their launches and company growth.
In addition to fostering connections in the startup ecosystem, Durance is an advocate of aquaculture and sustainable fisheries, which is why the CIE has hosted regional events for Fish 2.0, a global community for seafood businesses and investors, sending two local startups to the summit in 2019.
Under her leadership, the CIE grew its Youth Entrepreneurship Program, fueled support in arts and innovation-based ventures and helped launch 1 Million Cups Wilmington.
During Durance’s role as director, the CIE also helped create the Health Care Innovation Certificate Program in partnership with the UNCW College of Health and Human Services and New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Innovation Center, and co-founded the NC Bioneer Venture Challenge with the N.C. Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office to promote life sciences and biotechnology business ventures in the region.
Durance’s initiative in supporting entrepreneurs stemmed from her own experience in launching businesses, previously launching three companies.
Before her role in Wilmington, Durance came from Michigan, where she held various positions including president of MiQuest, a nonprofit supporting ventures, executive director for Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest and president of the Ann Arbor IT Zone, an incubator for technology ventures.
In the announcement, Durance said she is especially proud to have helped build a team-based mentoring group that now has more than 140 volunteer members, many of whom have moved or retired to the area and want to use their expertise to help others launch their own businesses.
Ico insights


Ubs chadpearson headshotresized

Planning Towards A Smooth Transition: Eight Steps For A Business Transition

Chad Pearson - UBS Decision Point Wealth Consulting
Chris coudriet

Masks, Vaccines, And Workplace Safety

Chris Coudriet - New Hanover County Government
Capefearrealtors tomgale headshot

How REALTORS® Can Help With Home Safety Issues

Tom Gale - Cape Fear REALTORS®

Trending News

Market Street Shopping Center Under New Ownership

Cece Nunn - Sep 17, 2021

DBA, City Of Wilmington Discuss Creation Of Outdoor Social District

Jenny Callison - Sep 17, 2021

Area Startups Among Winners, Finalists Of NC Tech Awards

Johanna Cano - Sep 16, 2021

Geospatial Startup Maps Growth

Johanna Cano - Sep 17, 2021

WilmingtonBiz Talk: Talking Transportation

Vicky Janowski - Sep 16, 2021

In The Current Issue

Geospatial Startup Maps Growth

Providing a highly demanded service in a niche industry has allowed Wilmington-headquartered technology company Geo Owl to grow as an innova...

Local Museum Participates In Smithsonian Event On Sunday

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science announced recently that it will open its doors free of charge to all Museum Day ticket holders on Sa...

MADE Winners: Exporter Category

HSM Machine Works, Marpac Yogasleep and SOS Life Sciences Corp. were winners in the MADE Awards Exporter Category....

Book On Business

The 2021 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!



Trying to Grow a Business?
2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100