, an economic development group that has backed 32 startups over the past three years, is accepting grant applications for its spring award cycle.

NC IDEA offers non-dilutive grants up to as much as $50,000.

The purpose of the program is to help entrepreneurs who are seeking to grow firms toward private equity interest and support.

Applications can be made online at the NC IDEA Web site through Jan. 30.

Between three and six firms will receive funding. To be eligible, companies must be based in North Carolina and focused on information technology, medical devices, material sciences or “green” technology.

Kennedy Covington, Hughes Pittman & Gupton, Square 1 Bank, Hutchison Law Group, and Smith Anderson provide funding support for the program.

IDEA Fund Partners is the for-profit venture financing operation of NC IDEA.

In December, NC IDEA provided funding for five startups: They reflected a mix of technologies.

BioMedomics and Spoonflower each received $45,000. InnerOptics received $44,965. B2b2dot0 received $40,000, and Arctic was awarded $25,000.