Biotechnology startups in North Carolina can now apply for loans over time that could total as much as $1 million from the N.C. Biotechnology Center.
After revisions and expansions of various programs, the amount of funds available has more than doubled, the state-funded Center announced Wednesday.
In a further effort to boost research and development, the Biotechnology Center also is launching a grant program targeting university technology transfer offices.
“We want to help spin out more new companies from universities as well as be more supportive of companies from other sources such as a GlaxoSmithKline,” said John Richert, vice president of the business and technology development program at the Biotech Center.
The new program will increase funds available to “north of $3 million” a year from the current $1.5 million, Richert explained.
“Building a viable biotechnology company requires years of struggle and millions of dollars and the costs keep rising,” he added in a statement. “So we’ve not only increased the caps on these offerings, but we’ve also made some revisions to fill funding gaps and stay ahead of the changing dynamics of the marketplace.”
To help launch more companies, the Biotech Center is increasing its “company inception loan” category to $50,000 from $25,000 and will no longer require a match in funding.
“We hope to launch up to 10 companies a year,” Richert said.
The Biotech Center also is making some $200,000 available for university technology transfer offices. The money is to be used to help those offices work with researchers to “make technology more licensable,” Richert explained. “This is a way for us to help tech transfer offices get technology off their shelves and make it more commercially viable.
“In many ways they are not given resources they need,” he added. “This funding can help fill some of those gaps.”
The expanded loan program and grants are the latest in a series of initiatives from the Biotech Center to boost the state’s life science industry, which employs more than 50,000 people. The Center recently unveiled an economic development division, a center for innovation, and fellowships for university researchers at private sector companies.
Small business innovation research bridge loans have been increased to $150,000 from $75,000.
Small business research loans have been increased to a maximum of $350,000 from $150,000. The program started a decade ago and the maximum size had not been increased. No match is required.
The Biotech Center also is making a second $250,000 strategic growth loan available “if specific milestones are met”. A match from an investor is required from an angel network or venture fund or a “family office” such as a trust, Richert noted,
Since the Biotech Center opened in 1984 it has made more than $16 million in loans to life science startups. That funding for more than 100 startups has led to an additional $1.6 billion in federal grants, business agreements and venture funding, according to the Center.