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Startup Innovation Through Community Participation

Co-written by: Christine Williams

There is no doubt we live in a great city. Wilmington has been praised in many media outlets, getting kudos for its location, great food, University system and sense of community. Wilmington is just one of the great examples of how vital the surrounding community is to the success of local businesses, and vice versa, a mutual support system of sorts. For a locally owned company, a great relationship with the community can ultimately be a determining factor for success. This mutually beneficial relationship between a local company and the surrounding community is personified in education, outreach and community engagement. Here at Elite Innovations we think that is the difference between a good and a great company.

One of our biggest priorities here at Elite Innovations is to foster successful relationships in the community within Wilmington, starting with students.
Students are the future creative and innovators of our community and responsible for its acceleration and future success. A child’s mind is a great thing, ready to absorb information, ideas and come up with truly wondrous ideas.

This past summer we hosted many kids’ camps at Elite Innovation’s MakerSpace. One of the student and staff favorites was an “innovation lab,” challenging students to essentially “build a better mousetrap” car. Among the students was a group of 10-12 year olds from UNCW’s Engineering Camp, led by Kathy Ibbotson.

UNCW Engineering Camp Elite Innovations Makerspace

Our staff was blown away at the enthusiasm and creativity of the young engineering enthusiasts. The students, who were from all over NC, were able to use their skills to collaborate with one another and create functioning cars that were both impressive and entertaining. This collaboration and creativity can be seen in our community every single day.

One of the staples of the Wilmington creative arts scene is the Cucalorus Film Festival, now in its 21st year of presentation. Elite Innovations aims to strengthen ties within the creative community by teaming up with Cucalorus this year in a new and exciting branch of the festival called Cucalorus Connect.

Cucalorus Connect UNCW CIE

Presented by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UNCW, a strong and enthusiastic supporter of Elite Innovations, Cucalorus Connect’s inaugural event will be a conference that hosts the heavy hitters of the start-up community and those that are driving new business. Connect highlights “[the] artists of the 21st century,” Brawley has said. This concept includes start up owners, CEOs, programmers, technology creators, incubators and many other inventive job creators.

Makerspace Quad Copter Demo with Boy ScoutsBy positioning ourselves alongside of forward-thinkers like start-ups at UNCW’s CIE and the staff who run Cucalorus, we are aiming to drive new and unique ways of merging creative arts and business into the community.

A company can only be a strong as the community surrounding it. The community in which a company exists acts as its extended family, a mutual support system. The community holds a wealth of knowledge in different sectors and a great relationship with the community can ultimately be a determining factor for success for locally owned companies.

Strength comes in numbers and those numbers add up to collaboration within a community that works and grows together. The culture of a start-up is different than that of a franchise or company branch that may be opened. A start-up is, in its very nature, a labor of love, a passionate endeavor and full of enthusiasm. It takes a community with members of the same qualities to solidify the impact of these companies. We view the Wilmington community like one big company, everyone with their unique abilities and strengths, but all working together toward one movement. The consistent positive enforcement that we all give to each other breathes purpose into all of our missions in building an exciting business community and in turn, a thriving economy.

Here at Elite Innovations, we are proud to sponsor and be part of many great things happening in the community. Stay tuned to find out how we are drumming up some new exciting things in Wilmington and beyond.

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Open for business

Hello Wilmington and surrounding areas! We are pleased to finally be open to the public and are super pumped about the maker we have working in the space. We are already impressed with the ideas being developed in the space and feel pretty strongly that the Wilmington Makerspace is going to help folks get these ideas to market.

This is our first of many blogs that will cover a range of things. We will keep everyone up to speed on finished projects, specials, events, and even some industry insight on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). We like to brag about the insight we have in the space including Engineering, Electronics, Upholstery; the list goes on! Our goal is to help Wilmington people turn their ideas into a reality.

See some preliminary Makerspace products:

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1. TacLace – Fastest Boot Lacing system on the market!

TacLace is the ultimate boot lacing system allowing boot wearers to get their boots on in about 10 seconds. This was developed by Andrew Williams, the makerspace owner, and was developed during a deployment in Afghanistan. See more at or on the Makerspace website.

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2. ORIGOSafe – No texting while driving. No problem!

THE solution to distracted driving. ORIGOSafe is an ignition interlock system that requires drivers to dock their phones when operating their vehicle. Removal of the phone sounds an ungodly alarm and deauthorizes that phone to the vehicle, requiring the user to contact their administrator for reactivation. This was invented by Clay Skelton out of Roanoke, VA and developed by Andrew Williams of the Wilmington Makerspace. See more at or the Makerspace website.


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3. R3MP – Rapid Removal & Retention Magazine Pouch

A tactical product for rapid magazine transition. Great for military members, law enforcement, or competition shooting. Also invented and developed by Andrew Williams of the Wilmington Makerspace, but not yet available on the market. See it on the Makerspace Website.

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There are many more ideas being developed within the space, but due to Intellectual Property protection, you’ll have to wait to hear about them!