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Photo by Jed Record, Article by Ben Feuer

UNC Kenan-Flagler, one of the top business schools in America, doubles down on its commitment to private equity by creating an institute devoted to business data analytics and research.  We analyze aspects of the press release below -- to read the release in full, just follow the links.

The University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School has launched the Institute for Private Capital (IPC).

“Our mission is to promote a deep understanding of the role of private capital markets in the global economy, which is not widely understood,” said Douglas A. Shackelford, dean and Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

This seems like a lure for Private Equity types.  After all, who else in the business world spends inordinate amounts of time fretting over the behavior of closely held middle market firms? 

The IPC will create databases, produce research and develop curriculum and educational initiatives, which are of great interest to both academic and industry leaders.

“We will create and share the data and knowledge that are missing today,” said 
Gregory W. Brown, professor of finance and director of the IPC. 

Databases of private equity and closely held companies?  Aside from the potential creepiness factor (do you really want UNC knowing about and profiting from your business’s vital signs?) this could certainly be a useful resource, not just to schools but to researchers at firms as well.  The IPC’s website claims that the data will be made available specifically to academic researchers, but it also states that Burgiss, a private company known for data analytics, holds the database.

The database will cover private capital investment – such as venture capital funds, buy-out and growth capital funds, hedge funds, debt funds, real estate funds, natural resources funds, and closely held and family businesses. 

Pretty much speaks for itself – a clearinghouse for data on VC, PE and medium sized business.

“Since private capital constitutes the majority of global capital, IPC research will have a significant impact on practice and policy, and will spur curricular innovations nationally and internationally.”

Although some reference is made to benefits ‘trickling down’ to students, there is no explicit talk of new courses or professor hires – it seems like the educational benefits of the IPC will be secondary at best.

IPC will work with a global team of faculty from other top universities, leading industry practitioners and key policy makers.

In the past, that has included faculty from Booth, Darden, Said and Fuqua, among others.


A word on funding – the database is funded by Steven F. Maier, an adjunct UNC professor who created the UNC Treasury management program, via one of his nonprofit foundations, the UAI Foundation.  The same foundation also created PERC, another UNC program.  In 2011, UAI appears to have paid $120,000 to fund PERC – on the scale of business school, this implies that these programs are relatively inexpensive to run, although there could well be more money coming in from other directions.

All in all, the announcement seems to be a fairly positive move – it is true that publicly held corporations attract much more press, and that much more information tends to be available for those types of corporations.  But there is a lot that is left unsaid in this press release, so in the end, it will come down to the details.  From our standpoint, the key unanswered question is, how specifically will the IPC improve MBA experiences, outcomes and recruitment opportunities?