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2023 Cleantech Panelist Speaker

Sheryl Waddell

Director of Economic Development and Innovation Hubs

Office of Innovate Carolina


As director of economic development and innovation hubs, Sheryl Waddell leads Carolina’s effort to create an innovation hub and downtown innovation district that will attract, retain and grow more innovation-oriented companies and talent in Chapel Hill. She leads the implementation of UNC-Chapel Hill’s economic development strategy centered around innovation, talent and place by engaging with University and community partners, including corporate, nonprofit and government leaders.

As a senior leader of Innovate Carolina – the University’s central team for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development – Waddell’s work focuses on enhancing career opportunities for students and creating economic vibrancy for the local community, region and state. The relationships developed, the knowledge transferred, and the conduit to additional connections facilitates a cohesive network that will have a long-term impact on innovation and economic benefits from both within the region and to major markets outside the region, connecting it to capital sources and go-to-market partners.

Sheryl is also co-founder of e51, a women’s entrepreneurial initiative. Women are 51 percent of the working population in the US; e51 symbolizes an entrepreneurial community powered by women aimed to harness the talent and potential of female entrepreneurs.

Sheryl brings more than 25 years of business development and relationship management sales experience to the Innovate Carolina Team. She has experience in all phases of program management, including business development, team formation, proposal support, program execution (contract administration, reporting close-out) and cultivating customer relationships.

Most recently, Sheryl was the national program director for the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, a program developed at UNC-Chapel Hill and deployed in conjunction with Duke University, NC State University and North Carolina Central University. The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network unlocks the tremendous economic potential of select regions by identifying and networking the area’s successful serial entrepreneurs so they can advise and coach the region’s next generation high-growth companies.

Prior to her work at Carolina, Sheryl was executive manager of strategy and contracts for Intergraph, the leading global provider of engineering and geospatial software, where she led the pre-sales operations team focusing on opportunity capture analysis, proposal development and contract execution.

Sheryl began her career as a women’s entrepreneur, co-founding Padcom, Inc., a wireless data communications company in 1992. At Padcom, she held numerous roles including executive vice president of sales and marketing and director of business development. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the sales and marketing framework, leading to the company’s success and eventual merger with a leading data communication company, NetMotion. Sheryl holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Wesleyan College.