NC Biotech Center fuels startups with $1.6M in grants, loans
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Research Triangle Park, N.C. — The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded more than $1.6 million in the second quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, while companies in its loan portfolio brought in more than $10 million in outside funding during the period.
NCBiotech approved 23 grants and loans in seven programs to institutions and organizations across the state during the quarter running from October through December, 2013. The awards program supports life science entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and growth, and lays the groundwork for major add-on funding.
Every dollar NCBiotech loans to young life science companies is met with $117 in additional funding to those firms from disease philanthropy and government grants, angel and venture investment and other financial support. Every grant dollar is met with $28 of additional funding.
- G1 Therapeutics, which announced a $12.5 million Series A financing led by MedImmune Ventures, with Hatteras Venture Partners and Mountain Group Capital as co-investors. NCBiotech awarded the Chapel Hill firm a total of $500,000 in loans in 2011 and 2012 to which is developing molecules for use in cancer and biodefense applications.
- Aerial BioPharma, which announced highly encouraging results from a Phase 2 clinical trial of its ADX-N05 in narcolepsy patients. Since then, in January 2014, Aerial sold the worldwide rights to ADX-N05, except in certain Asian countries, to Jazz Pharmaceuticals for $125 million upfront as well as future milestone payments and royalties. NCBiotech awarded a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan in 2012 to Aerial, a developer of drugs to treat central nervous system disorders.
- bioMASON, which won the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge, its second major prize in 2013. bioMASON was housed in temporary office space at NCBiotech and then was awarded NCBiotech’s $50,000 Company Inception in 2013. Since then, bioMASON also received $670,000 as the winner of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, a $150,000 federal SBIR grant and was the recipient of a large angel fund investment. bioMASON uses the tools of biotechnology, in this case a harmless bacterium, to develop a masonry material at room temperature that replaces traditional clay and concrete without the high energy consumption associated with standard manufacturing.
- Novocor Medical Systems, which won the Early Stage Shootout at the SEBIO conference in Richmond, VA. NCBiotech awarded a $75,000 Small Business Research Loan to Novocor earlier in 2013. The company then was able to raise $961,000 in angel investments. Novocor is developing a system that enables paramedics to cool patients to improve outcomes after cardiac arrest, stroke or traumatic brain injury.
- Nova Synthetix, which made the winning presentation at the Ag Biotech Entrepreneurial Showcase, thereby garnered a presentation spot at the February 26-27 CED Life Science Conference. NCBiotech awarded a $50,000 Company Inception Loan to the company earlier in 2013 to help lay the groundwork for its development of a non-toxic castor plant for enhanced production of castor oil, which is used as a high value chemical feedstock.
In 2014, NCBiotech observes its 30th anniversary as a global leader in life science job creation. The Center has been distributing grants and loans since soon after it was established in 1984, helping North Carolina become the nation’s third-largest life science cluster. There are now more than 600 life science facilities across in the state, employing more than 60,000 employees earning an average salary exceeding $78,000.
Loan, Grant Breakdown
The quarter’s $1,626,662 in loans and grants from NCBiotech include:
$494,931 in three Small Business Research Loans
These loans of up to $250,000 fund research that advances small life science companies’ development of commercially viable technologies/products. The loans help companies reach specific and meaningful research milestones that position them to obtain additional funding from private and public sources.
- Rheomics (Chapel Hill) was awarded $75,000 to help it develop a unique and convenient point-of-care clot-diagnosing tool using technology licensed from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- CanDiag (Charlotte ) was awarded $182,053 to help it develop its novel blood test for early detection of breast and pancreatic cancers.
- MxBiodevices (Greenville) was awarded $237,878 to help it prepare for manufacturing of clinical trial quantities of its lead product, Dermagrid, which is being developed to treat diabetic foot ulcers, a devastating and costly complication of diabetes.
$150,000 in three Company Inception Loans
These $50,000 loans to qualifying start-up life science companies support business inception and related activities intended to help the companies position themselves for start-up and early-stage funding or partnering.
The following companies received these awards during the quarter:
- Dignify Therapeutics (RTP), which is developing drug therapies to help people who have impaired bladder and bowel function as a result of trauma or disease such as spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis.
- Gravity Bio (Chapel Hill), which develops and commercializes pharmaceutical drugs and medicinal preparations that treat cough, cold, allergies, flu and other viruses, nasal, bronchial, respiratory and associated congestion and their symptoms.
- SafeRay Spine, (Durham), which is developing medical imaging devices that may help to reduce radiation exposure and improve the safety in fluoroscopy procedures.
$700,000 for a Centers of Innovation Grant tranche
The award was for continued Phase II funding of the NC Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation (MBCOI). The MBCOI is becoming a self-sustaining, not-for-profit entity which will bring together research and technology to accelerate commercialization of the state’s marine biotechnology industry. Deborah Mosca, Ph.D., is CEO of the MBCOI.
$200,000 for two Collaborative Funding Grants
These grants of up to $100,000 are jointly sponsored by NCBiotech and the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science at North Carolina State University. They support university-company partnerships that help move the companies’ technology toward the marketplace. The grants pay for post-doctoral fellows or technicians in university labs to conduct research on a project of commercial interest. University investigators and companies first form the collaboration and then apply together through the university. This quarter both grants were awarded to NCSU:
- Electrical Engineering Professor Hamrid Krim, Ph.D., is partnered with Durham development-stage biotech company SCYNEXIS to develop a way to screen thousands of compounds a month in search of new mosquito repellents.
- Mari Chinn, Ph.D., associate professor of bioprocessing in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, is working with Merry Hill agricultural biotechnology company Avoca, to develop an optical scanning method to quickly determine the quality and value of each grower’s clary sage delivery to Avoca. The project will also try to use the process to identify new compounds and potential products for development. Avoca, which specializes in botanical extractions, is a global leader in processing clary sage to make sclareolide, widely used by the fragrance industry to “fix” fragrance so it doesn’t waft away too soon.
$44,000 for a Technology Enhancement Grant
This grant program grant provides awards of up to $50,000 to universities or other N.C. research institutions through their technology transfer offices. The grants fund commercially promising research studies to enhance the institution’s licensing position.
The grant went to the Duke University Medical Center to help it develop a genetically modified organism that can be used for making a cheaper, more environmentally friendly Adipic acid, a component required for nylon production. Duke investigators engineered this enzyme for cancer research and plan to use the funding to develop a fully bio-based Adipic acid production method.
$17,500 for three Biotechnology Meeting Grants
These grants help support national or international meetings that advance the understanding or application of biotechnology while also bringing attention to the North Carolina scientific community and promoting information sharing and personal interaction focused on biotechnology research, education, or business. Recipients this quarter were:
- $5,000 to the Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative, to help support the 6th annual Environmental Health Summit at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
- $7,500 to help support the 2014 Science Online conference in Raleigh.
- $5,000 to help Duke University host a meeting of the Southeast Research Center of Excellence on Emerging Infections and Biodefense at which local and international experts discussed the threat to our national and global health security resulting from diseases borne by fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other so-called “vectors.”
$20,231 for 10 Biotechnology Event Sponsorships
One of the most valuable services from NCBiotech is its unique ability to make connections and bring people across the state together to spur research, its commercialization, and ultimately companies providing excellent jobs.
- $500 to UNC-Chapel Hill for a meeting to inform scientists throughout the Triangle about opportunities and resources for regenerative medicine research at UNC and NCSU.
- $3,000 to the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research for its second annual “Bridging the Gap” conference about improving STEM education statewide.
- $1,500 to UNC-Chapel Hill for the biennial RNA Society of NC-sponsored symposium on RNA biology, which is essential for medical, agricultural and environmental research.
- $2,950 to Wake Forest University Health Sciences for the NC Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine Society's 15th Annual Conference, held in Winston-Salem.
- $1,281 to East Carolina University for the 15th Annual Neuroscience Research Day, sponsored by the Eastern NC Chapter of the Society of Neuroscience
- $3,000 to UNC Charlotte for the Joint 9th Annual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium and the North Carolina Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation annual research conference.
- $2,000 to UNC Charlotte for the Society of Research Administrators International -- North Carolina Chapter's annual conference.
- $2,000 to UNC-Chapel Hill for the 2014 Integrative Vascular Biology and UNC McAllister Heart Institute’s annual research symposium.
- $2,000 to UNC-Chapel Hill for the 4th annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium presentation by Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, Ph.D.
- $2,000 to the North Carolina Academy of Science, to help support the organization’s 111th annual meeting, held this time at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
(C) NC Biotechnology Center
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