Six companies – five of them from the Triangle- are finalists in “The Big Launch Challenge” being put on by the First Flight Venture Center in RTP and Virginia-based Launch Place.

The First Flight Venture Center and Launch Place are offering two first-place prizes of $15,000 in a new collaborative effort to boost entrepreneurship across the region.

The six finalists are:

  • 3F – Larry Dickinson

1017 Main Campus Dr. Ste. 2300
Raleigh, NC 27606


  • INRFOOD – Keval Mehta

8311 Brier Creek Pkwy
Suite 105333
Raleigh, NC 27617

  • NIRvana Bioscience – Russell Thomas

Russell Thomas – Leader
2 Davis Drive
Suite 113
Durham, NC 27709

  • Reynolds Clark

Tim Reynolds – Leader
112 South Main St
PO 556
Gretna, VA 24557

  • Rheomics – Ricky Spero

Ricky Spero – Leader
Phillips Hall CB3255
C/O Superfine Lab
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

  • Sanitation Creation – Liz Morris

Liz Morris – Leader
Raleigh, NC 27601

“We are excited to be working with The Launch Place on the The Big Launch Challenge,” said Andy Schwab, president of First Flight Venture Center, when announcing the event in March. “This is the first event in this region to bring together entrepreneurs and start-ups from two states, all in an effort to help find good ideas and build sustainable businesses.”

First Flight, which launched in 1992, is the largest new business incubator in the Triangle.

The Launch Place, which is based in Danville, Va., works with entrepreneurs in the Dan River Region of that state.

Their first collaborative event is open to startups focused on:

  • Nanotechnology
  • Green technology
  • Information technology
  • Alternative energy
  • Advanced manufacturing and materials
  • Medical device

Entrants first completed in an online competition.

The finalists will be selected to pitch to investors at the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research in Danville on May 22.

Judges will be from the seed fund advisory board for The Launch Place.

The top two firms could win as much as $15,000 each. 

“The Big Launch Challenge is slated to become one of the foremost events for startups in the region,” said Eva Doss, CEO of The Launch Place. “Not only will the competition provide entrepreneurs with prize money, it also will serve as a platform for them to learn about The Launch Place’s unique entrepreneurship services and on-going investment opportunities in Danville, Virginia.”

To register for the event and for more information, visit: