Saral named Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation executive director

Krista Saral seated wearing glasses and dark shirt
Monday, September 18, 2023
Appointment bridges center’s research, academic and community elements

Krista Saral, associate professor of economics in the Belk College of Business, is named executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Saral’s appointment advances UNC Charlotte’s support of the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and demonstrates the university’s and Belk College’s commitment to use-inspired research in innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Dr. Saral brings significant research and organizational expertise to this newly created role," said Belk College Interim Dean Dolly King. "She is passionate about the success of entrepreneurs and understands how entrepreneurship serves as an engine for economic growth. Dr. Saral studies the behavioral characteristics of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial systems, and through her collaborative work nationally and globally, she has built connections with other entrepreneurship and innovation centers."

UNC Charlotte’s center serves the entire campus and broader Charlotte community. It moved to the Belk College in January with the integration of Ventureprise, the city’s longest-serving entrepreneur support organization, with the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the offerings of an undergraduate certificate in entrepreneurship and a graduate certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation.

With Saral’s appointment, current co-director Devin Collins will serve as Director of Technology and Business Support Programs and co-director Justin Webb will act as Director of Entrepreneurship Academic Programs and Research.

Saral will lead externally-facing efforts of the center and will link the academic and research roles the center plays with its technology and business aspects, working closely with Webb and Collins on the center’s strategic direction.

"This is an exciting and critical time for UNC Charlotte in the entrepreneurship space," Saral said. "The center plays an essential role in the creation of innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to complex issues and in the development of infrastructure that enables entrepreneurs to flourish. Our students, faculty, staff and community members learn important skills through our development of entrepreneurial best practices, while our faculty across the university contribute through research that is useful and can be applied."

Saral Brings expertise

Saral researches entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as auction markets, management and personnel economics, using experimental methods. Her research has been published in leading journals including The Economic Journal and Management Science. Her work has earned attention in outlets such as the Harvard Business Review. Most recently, she is presenting a paper on remote work with a co-author in November at the National Bureau of Economic Research conference, an opportunity offered to top-tier faculty. A Lexington, S.C. native, Saral also has learned about the issues entrepreneurs face from a personal perspective, as her spouse is the founder of a start-up company in the textile recycling industry.

"I have observed and been a sounding board for ideas as my husband and his colleagues are working to revive an important industry in the Carolinas," she said. "I’ve seen first-hand the innovative approaches as well as high levels of grit that entrepreneurs need to fuel their work."

Saral joined the Charlotte faculty as a visiting assistant professor in 2017 and became an assistant professor in 2019. She also is an associate researcher with the GATE Lab, Lyon Saint-Etienne, France, affiliated with the National Centre for Scientific Research. GATE is ranked among the top 5% institutions worldwide in experimental economics (IDEAS field ranking.) Saral earned a Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University.

Prior to joining Charlotte, Sabal was a faculty member in the School of Business and Technology at Webster University in Geneva and a Quinn Fellow in Experimental Economics at Florida State University. Previously, she was an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Industry Productivity.