Cheryl McMurry Shenaut, an executive with a variety of experience in the biotech industry and in raising venture capital, is the new manager of the BioNetwork BioBusiness Center established by the North Carolina Community College System.

The center is based near Asheville at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s Enka campus.

“The NC Community College System BioNetwork is aware of many of the challenges faced by biotech startups and has a plan to help address these,” marketing and recruiting director Norman Smit tells Local Tech Wire. “The BioNetwork BioBusiness Center is in early implementation and recently appointed its manager, Cheryl Shenaut. With her angel fund and biotech startup experience, and having worked in both the public and private sector, she has key insights that will be used to assist the biotech industry in North Carolina through BioNetwork.”

The Center is designed to promote development of entrepreneurial skills plus support services and courses in biotechnology operations. Its services will be used by the statewide college system.

“One of the challenges the BioNetwork BioBusiness Center will take on is developing outreach programs that convey to people who live outside our urban research areas that biotechnology is a field in which there are immense business and employment opportunities,” Shenaut said in a statement.

“Scientists and entrepreneurs who have intellectual property to develop – as well as start-up and established companies – need to know that the community college BioNetwork will provide a first class workforce for them everywhere in the state,” she added. “They need to know that they can locate wherever they choose and find a ready pool of well-trained employees.”

High-tech and venture background

Development of workforce training for the biotech industry is a major initiative within the Community College System. The Golden Leaf Foundation has provided nearly $9 million in funding for the effort.

Shenaut played a key role in the design and creation of the Oklahoma Technology Commercialization Center. The state-funded but privately run center helped more than 60 companies and raised more than $200 million in funding. She also was director of technology development and marketing for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

Before coming to Asheville, she worked three yeas at Emergent Technologies, a venture capital firm, as a vice president in Austin, TX. In Oklahoma, she ran Emergent Technologies, Oklahoma, LLP, that invested in five technology firms.

Shenaut worked on recruitment of biotech companies and coordinated the successful statewide campaign to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to allow for public-private partnerships between university laboratories and private entrepreneurs. Earlier in her career, she served as special counsel to the chairman of MetPath.

Shenaut is a graduate of the University of South Carolina law school and earned a Master’s Degree at Winthrop College.

Staffing underway at other centers

Three other centers also have recently hired directors. They are:

  • Lin Wu, dean of the BioNetwork Capstone Center, which will be based at the Biomanufacturing Training & Education Center (BTEC) at NC State’s Centennial Campus.

  • Bill Cooper, manager of the BioNetwork Bioprocessing Center at the Technology Enterprise Center in Greenville, NC. At the Pitt Community College.

  • David Brigham, manager of the BioNetwork BioEd Center at Gaston Community College.

    Managers are expected to be named soon for centers in the Triad and Robeson County.

    NC BioNetwork: