NC IDEA has picked five companies to receive a combined $215,000 in “proof of concept” grants to help start them toward commercialization and possible venture funding.

Picked to receive the grants, were:

• A-B-Sea Research Inc: $44,188

• AP Solutions: $45,550

• Beecoz: $42,500

• Cytex Therapeutics: $40,000

• Oncoscope: $39,877

The focus of each of the companies, as provided by NC IDEA, are:

A-B-Sea – A Raleigh-based company, it has developed easily deployed “undersea satellites” (“U-lites”) to provide precise GPS-based navigation underwater, long-distance message relay, and oceanographic sensor data relay.

AP Solutions – Based on done at N.C. State University, the company is devising an environmentally friendly, quick, effective, and nondestructive method to remove paint from plastic and carbon fiber composite surfaces.

Beecoz – A Raleigh-based company, Beecoz has combined a blog-based publishing platform, flexible networking controls and a simple address verification process to make it safe and easy for people to dynamically create neighborhood networks while maintaining security and privacy.

Cytex – Utilizing research done at Duke University, the company is seeking to develop a tissue engineered, biocompatible cartilage replacement as a first line surgical therapy for the treatment of hip osteoarthritis (OA).

Oncoscope – Based on research at Duke University, the company is developing an optical biopsy system which would enable physicians to scan epithelial tissue in vivo and detect signs of early cancer.

More than 200 companies applied for the grants.

NC IDEA, which is focused on economic development across North Carolina, launched the program with two rounds of grants last year.

Grants are up to $50,000 and are non-dilutive to company owners. The program is designed to help companies bridge the gap between initial development and outside funding.

Funds can be used for research and development, business planning and advancing projects to the point of what NC IDEA calls “self-sustainability when suitable for private equity investors.”

NC IDEA will award a second series of grants later this year. Applications will be accepted starting later in the summer.

“The mission of NC IDEA is to create jobs through commercialization of research innovation,” said David Rizzo, chief executive officer of NC IDEA. “The grant program is a catalyst for technological breakthroughs developed in North Carolina that have a significant potential to successfully transition into commercially viable high-growth enterprises.”

NC IDEA also will work with the companies to provide mentoring services and contacts within the technology community. NC IDEA works with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), The North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA), the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and Southeast TechInventures.

As part of the mentoring service, NC IDEA pays the majority of the cost for grant recipients to participate in the CED training program known as FastTrac.

NC IDEA recently launched its own for-profit venture fund.