Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.Charlotte isn’t usually thought of as a biotech hotspot, but the Queen City has more going on in the sector than most people realize.
The second annual “Charlotte’s Emerging Role in Biotechnology” conference September 23 highlights the city’s growing biotech infrastructure and advanced research at UNC Charlotte and Carolinas Healthcare. Both are sponsors along with the Metrolina Entrepreneurial Council (MEC).
It will also offer presentations from three biotech startups. Mark Wdowik, executive director of UNC Charlotte’s Office of Technology Transfer tells Local Tech Wire, “One of the things you keep hearing about is this push to promote biotech statewide. Part of that is that people just are not aware of what’s going on around the state and that’s one of the reasons for this conference, to make sure we publicize what is going on in this region.”
The star-ups presenting at the conference include one UNC Charlotte biology department spinout, Biotrackers Inc. Biotrackers, Wdowik says, has a new way to tag and track genetically modified organisms (GMOS).
“Right now they’re focused on environmental uses,” he says. “They’re testing the ability to track leaks in sewer systems with tagged GMOS.” Right now this work is done with dyes, which have limitations.
“His benign GMO would be able to track how far the leak goes, how fast it travels, and how long it lives. In the future, they may be able to add it to a stream to find out who polluted it or attach it to anthrax spores so that you could track where they came from.”
Two other startups created out of Carolinas Medical Center, MW Imaging Medical and BreathQuant, also will present.
A variety of other programming is on the agenda, including an address from Leslie Alexandre, president of the NC Biotechnology Center.
The day-long conference will be held at the Barnhardt Center Salons at UNC Charlotte. It starts with a an 8 a.m. networking breakfast. Advance registration is $40. It’s $50 at the door. More information is available from Ruth Burnett at email@example.com.
MEC’s mentoring efforts
Terry Thorson, executive director of MEC, tells LTW the organization is forming an advisory committee that will review business plans and business ideas to help mentor fledgling entrepreneurs.
“We’re creating a structured, full cycle new program for MEC to advise, mentor and mature businesses. We’re putting together the advisory committee to screen business proposals.”
Thorson says those may be full-fledged business plans, an idea, or plans beyond the idea stage but not yet fleshed out.
“The committee will include about ten people with expertise across multiple industries,” Thorson says. She says MEC is still trying to decide if the mentoring will be a free program members get, which would likely mean an increase in membership fees, or a small add-on fee program.
“We don’t want it to be cost prohibitive,” she says. “It should allow any of our members to go through this process.”
Elogex in the news
Travis Parsons, Charlotte founder of Elogex Inc., which sold to a Dallas-based investment group in May, is featured in an Inc. magazine article for September.
The article takes a look at why Parsons sold the company to the Dallas group, which stripped him of the CEO title and bestowed it on Greg Brady, based in Dallas. Although Parsons remains an executive vice president, chief financial officer, a large shareholder and a seat on the company board, it questions how long the new relationship can last.
With top management in Dallas and Parsons and the company headquarters in Charlotte, some conflicts could easily develop say experts consulted for the article.
Parsons created the company in 1999. It sells Internet-based software to manage “collaborative logistics,” basically managing supply chains to save companies more than 20 percent on transportation and distribution costs. Its clients include major grocery story chains such as Winn Dixie.
The company was also in the news in August for paying the Business Software Alliance $49,308 to settle claims for use of unlicensed copies of Adobe, Macromedia and Microsoft programs on its computers.
The audit by the Alliance, which represents software manufacturers, says tips to its Web site or hotline prompt most investigations.
Elogix was the first adopter of Red Hat Linux Web hosting from Maryland-based Digex. It also uses Linux for internal training and development. Elogex does Web applications delivery for clients in the food and beverage, building products and retail industries.
Charlotte Emerging Biotech Conference: www.sbtdc.org/events/charlotte_biotech/
Elogex Inc.: www.elogex.com