Support Orgs Boosting Startup Speed in The Innovation Quarter

5 minute read

Entrepreneurs and community members at a shared workspace in Sparq's coworking space in the Innovation Quarter

The Innovation Quarter (iQ) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a thriving and vibrant hub for entrepreneurs and small businesses. With its mix of universities, research institutions, entrepreneurs and corporate headquarters, the iQ offers a unique environment for startups to develop and succeed.

Many new business ventures must find resources to help guide them as they weather the often messy process of building a business. The iQ offers an excellent selection of entrepreneurship programs and organizations that provide acceleration and mentorship programs.

What Are Acceleration and Mentorship Programs?

Acceleration and mentorship programs give evolving companies access to resources such as mentorship, investors, and other business assistance that support aspiring entrepreneurs on their journey to becoming stable, self-sufficient businesses.

In addition to mentorship and investment opportunities, acceleration programs provide developing companies access to logistical and technical resources and often offer shared office space, networking capabilities, and continued educational opportunities.

What kind of Acceleration and Mentorship Programs are Available in the IQ?

As a new entrepreneur, you may have a business plan and strategies in place, but it’s essential to determine the next steps. As the Innovation Quarter (iQ) continues to expand as a vibrant coworking community, its acceleration, funding and mentorship programs have helped it become one of the most prominent small business development centers in the US.

At iQ, you have a wealth of resources to help you plan for the next steps—whether you’re looking to grow and need an investor or struggling with trademark regulations regarding your Corporation and need a lawyer to help you go through the fine print. The iQ provides several choices for acceleration and mentorship programs. Here are programs that iQ offers their community, which can benefit any new venture.

1. Sparq™ 

Sparq™ is the launchpad for any new venture or small business looking to find stable footing in the entrepreneurial world. Sparq™ offers a wealth of resources to help a business thrive and succeed like:  

  • Office hours with attorneys, accountants, and marketing professionals to help navigate business challenges 
  • Pitch practice of your business ideas with local and national venture capital companies and investors 
  • Connections to business and scientific mentors 
  • Connections with accelerator programs or grant programs 
  • Networking and community-building events for building relationships with strategic partners 

One of Sparq™’s founding goals is to help grant access and opportunities for historically underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners, especially women and people of color. In the past, these groups have faced challenges in building successful businesses. With the support network and resources provided by iQ, underserved small business owners can now have an equal playing field with large corporations.  

2. Center for Creative Economy

The Center for Creative Economy is a nonprofit that provides support programs and services that mimic interaction, networking opportunities and professional development in the creative industries. These industries include architecture, advertising, marketing, design and the arts—any occupation that uses creativity at its core.

Innovation happens at the fringes of things,” says Margaret Collins, director of the Center for Creative Economy. “The Center for Creative Economy encourages people from all sectors of the creative industries to interact to spark the next innovative idea.”

Winston-Salem is growing into a hub for technology subject matter experts and creative business professionals. It’s a foolproof growth strategy for startup potential and an excellent location for Innovation Quarter to create entrepreneurial support organizations.

3. Small Business Center 

If you’re an entrepreneur starting up your own business in North Carolina, the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech could be instrumental in helping you strategize business plans, solutions and development. 

The Small Business Center helps create and support entrepreneurs and existing small businesses by offering free educational resources, educational programs, business and entrepreneurship mentoring services, office space, computer labs, and networking opportunities. 

“The Small Business Center has provided me with many resources and support to run my businesses successfully! As a small business owner, joining a network dedicated to supporting local businesses with education, networking and financial resource opportunities has been uplifting and rewarding!” —Britney Robertson, CTRS. 


LAUNCH, hosted by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Center for Healthcare Innovation, is an annual innovation incubator and competition that unites industry experts from across the Atrium Health enterprise. Established in 2022, its core mission is to identify and accelerate solutions for healthcare challenges. LAUNCH kicks off with an open call for ideas on a specific healthcare problem, aiming to engage fresh perspectives.

Mentoring plays a vital role, guiding innovators on how to navigate the healthcare system’s complexities and speak the language of healthcare leaders. The program offers robust support throughout the summer, providing resources, expert guidance, and opportunities to refine ideas. The pinnacle is a pitch competition where healthcare experts evaluate and celebrate innovative ideas. Winning not only brings recognition but also the chance to collaborate closely with the Center for Healthcare Innovation, turning visionary concepts into practical healthcare solutions. LAUNCH is the conduit for healthcare transformation, fostering innovation and collaboration across the system.

Key to Success is Access

Your brain is already in overdrive as an entrepreneur. The Innovation Quarter’s organization of small business development centers provides the support network and access to various resources to help you not only escape the startup grind but also thrive and succeed.  

Join Winston-Salem’s startup ecosystem to become a part of everything happening at the iQ and help set up your business for success!  

Your Workspace Should Work for You

Where and how we work has evolved tremendously as workspace options continue to expand. We’ve broken down what to consider before joining a coworking community to ensure it has the support you need to help your business succeed.

Cover of "The Ultimate Guide to Coworking in Winston-Salem"