RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Given a $2.5 million boost by the North Carolina General Assembly, the N.C. Biotechnology Center is launching a new grant program designed to “jump start” bioscience research.

The Biotech Center has set up a $600,000 fund for what it calls “Biotechnology Research Grants,” said Barry Teater, director of corporate communications.

“There was a consensus among our board members and program staff to build on an earlier program that produced a good return,” Teater said. “We have funded university research in the past.”

Due to budget constraints on state funding, the Biotech Center had ended the grant program even though it had led to development of technology and helped life science companies grow, Teater said. The General Assembly increased the Biotech Center’s appropriation for fiscal 2006-7 by $2.5 million to a total of $13.1 million, and the additional funds enabled the grant program to be “tweaked” and restored, Teater explained.

The Biotech Center also has launched a new loan program. The first loan was announced last week.

One of the “tweaks” on the grant program is that the Biotech Center requires researchers match at least 10 percent of the grant amount from other sources, such as from investors or through federal grants, Teater said.

The Biotech Center is expecting to make 10 grants. The maximum amount available is $75,000.

However, researchers at the main campuses of North Carolina State, Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are not eligible for the new grants. The Biotech Center offers other funding options for work done at those institutions.

The Biotech Center will publish grant application guidelines on the web in the near future. Proposals will be considered based on originality, scientific merit and potential commercial significance.

The new grant funds are intended to help scientists “jumpstart” ideas and research toward commercialization, Teater said.

“It’s hard for investigators to find that first shot of money, especially those at smaller universities,” he explained. “This provides that jumpstart.

“The goal is to allow these researchers to get enough preliminary data to present to federal agencies or other sources for additional funding.”

The Biotech Center does not receive an ownership stake in the research, intellectual capital or a company that is a result of the grants, Teater said. The Biotech Center’s “return on investment” is the additional research that leads to growth of the state’s life science sector and increases in federal research funds that end up in N.C., he added.

Researchers at non-profit institutions can also apply for grants.

For additional information, contact the Biotech Center’s Ginny Deluca (e-mail: Virginia_deluca@ncbiotech.org).

N.C. Biotech Center: www.ncbiotech.org