NC State, Raleigh’s Malartu Team Up To Study Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

An NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic meeting. NC State and Raleigh-based data analytics company Malartu have received a $400K grant from the Kauffman Foundation to study entrepreneurial ecosystems.

North Carolina State University and Raleigh-based Malartu have teamed up and received a two-year grant for more than $400,000 from the Kauffman Foundation to research insights about how entrepreneurs operate in their ecosystems.

The grant is referred to as “The Knowledge Challenge” and the Foundation chose to fund 32 projects, with more than 70 researchers participating.

“The Knowledge Challenge allows us to prioritize our grantmaking to answer specific problems for entrepreneurs and the organizations or institutions supporting them,” said Sameeksha Desai, Director of Knowledge Creation and Research in Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, in a press release.

NC State will start its research in January and will kick off the project by studying how entrepreneurs operate within the Triangle specifically. Local software company Malartu will help provide the technology, data and analytical tools for NC State to conduct the research.

“We wanted to be able to study social networks and how entrepreneurs use networks to grow their concept or build companies,” said Lewis Sheats, NC State’s assistant vice provost for entrepreneurship and executive director of the university’s entrepreneurship clinic.

Sheats said the research team is currently developing a hypothesis, but that so far they think the influence of an entrepreneur’s network and how he/she engages with it directly influences the success of the concept or venture. Hopefully, with this grant, Sheats said their research will help provide a basis for new policy and/or the research will help communities foster a more innovative environment for entrepreneurs.

Malartu’s Tools Aid Effort

NC State is excited to work with Malartu, Sheats said, because the company has developed the necessary technology and data tools to collect the data they need on a larger scale.

“Because they (Malartu) already have some of that tech built, we’re going to use their strengths to help us build our platform,” he said.

NC State and Malartu will both eventually further their research into studying five other entrepreneurial ecosystems beyond the Triangle. Sheats said that the team has yet not chosen which specific additional ecosystems they will study, but they’ll choose some areas that are quite similar and others that are very different from the Triangle.

The software company will continue to provide its technology and analytical tools to help NC State gather information and data once they decide to study the five other areas as well. Malartu plants to compare the data and analytical findings from the Triangle to the other areas that will be studied to see if there’s any social overlap, Malartu Co-Founder Sean Steigerwald said.

Malartu has worked with NC State and its entrepreneurial division before, and some of the company’s employees are NC State alumni, including Steigerwald.

“This is a cool study,” Steigerwald said. “It’s something we’re excited to be a part of. We think it’s going to be impactful long-term and helpful for young entrepreneurs who want to accelerate their careers.”

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Rebecca Ayers is a senior journalism major at UNC-Chapel Hill. She's an intern reporter for GrepBeat.