NC IDEA, a non-profit economic development organization, is accepting applications for its next round of $275,000 in “proof of concept” grants.

The grants are designed to help startup companies advance technology toward commercialization and equity funding from investors.

Early-stage firms in North Carolina that are focused on information technology, medical devices and material sciences are encouraged to apply.

Up to 15 companies will receive grants as much as $50,000. Funds can be used for business plan research and product development.

Preference is giving to companies that have received no equity financing.

Applications are due by Sept. 14. Recipients will be announced in December.

Since the program’s launch last year, 16 companies have received some $600,000 in funding.

“The mission of NC IDEA is to create jobs through commercialization of research innovation. 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,” said David Rizzo, chief executive officer of NC IDEA.

NC IDEA also operates a venture capital fund for early-stage funding.