The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded $885,586 in loans and grants the during the first quarter of its 2014-2015 fiscal year.

During the same period, the Center determined that more than $13 million in outside funding was raised by companies previously awarded NCBiotech loans.

NCBiotech approved 16 loans and grants to institutions and organizations across the state during the quarter running from July through September, 2014.

The awards programs support life science entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and growth, and lay the groundwork for major add-on funding.

On average, every dollar NCBiotech loans to young life science companies is met with $117 in additional funding to those firms from disease philanthropy and government grants, angel and venture investment and other financial support. Every grant dollar is met with an average $28 in additional funding.

19 NCBiotech loan recipients collect at least $150K more in quarter

The first quarter was an active fundraising period for NCBiotech loan recipients, with at least 19 companies attracting $150,000 or more in those three months. Some of the highlights include:

  • BioMarck Pharmaceuticals of Durham was awarded two grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), totaling more than $1.2 million. Grant proceeds will be used to further develop BioMarck’s agents to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and acute respiratory distress syndrome. In September, the NHLBI and NCBiotech co-hosted a regional innovation conference, and BioMarck was selected as one of nine presenting companies. NCBiotech has awarded two loans to BioMarck (in 2002 and 2009), totaling $165,000. The company also benefited from a $60,000 Collaborative Funding Grant to North Carolina State University in 2003.
  • Galaxy Diagnostics, of Research Triangle Park, attracted $550,814 in angel investments to fund further development of its highly sensitive tests that have broad applications in both human and veterinary medicine. Galaxy’s lead product is a test to detect Bartonella bacteria, which appear to play a role in diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis. NCBiotech has awarded two loans to Galaxy (in 2008 and 2012), totaling more than $115,000. Galaxy also presented at NCBiotech’s 2011 Emerging Company Preview event.
  • Humacyte, a Morrisville regenerative medicine company, announced that its HumaGraft vascular graft has received the FDA’s Fast Track designation. This designation indicates that the FDA will take a range of actions to work more closely with Humacyte and speed the review process. Humacyte also recently received a $981,567 NHLBI grant related to development of its vascular grafts. HumaGraft is an off-the-shelf vascular graft currently being assessed in a pair of Phase I/II studies in hemodialysis patients. NCBiotech awarded a $150,000 loan to Humacyte in 2006.
  • KindHeart, of Chapel Hill, raised $381,138 in an angel funding round that will support further development and marketing of its novel surgical simulation systems. These systems have already generated significant interest among leading medical device companies and surgeons as a result of their ability to simulate “real-world” anatomy and challenges that arise during surgeries. Investors in the funding round included angel groups that KindHeart management met while presenting at NCBiotech’s quarterly Angel Group Lunch. NCBiotech awarded a $249,060 Small Business Research Loan to KindHeart in 2013.

This latest round of awards includes:

$750,000 in three Small Business Research Loans

These loans, each for $250,000, fund research that advances small life science companies’ development of commercially viable technologies/products. The loans help companies reach specific and meaningful research milestones that position them to obtain additional funding from private and public sources.

Novocor Medical Systems, a Chapel Hill spinout of the joint biomedical engineering program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, received the loan to complete development and testing of its portable device for quickly chilling heart attack victims to reduce heart damage.

KeraNetics, of Winston-Salem, is using its loan to upgrade facilities where the company will manufacture its products for skin care, wound healing and regenerative medicine.

KinoDyn, of Chapel Hill, is using its loan to help develop its drugs to fight especially challenging cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer.

Support includes Event, Meeting, Economic Development grants

The Center also awarded 10 Biotechnology Event Sponsorships totaling $23,586 and two Biotechnology Meeting Grants for $12,000: one to Wake Forest University for $5,000 and the other to UNC for $7,000.

NCBiotech also made a $100,000 Economic Development Award to the Hoke County Economic Development Commission to help support job creation from a biofuels plant purchase by Tyton BioEnergy Systems.

Tyton, a company based in Danville, Virginia, is restarting the former Clean Burn Fuels biorefinery in Raeford as part of its strategy to make ethanol from a proprietary strain of regionally grown tobacco. That operation is expected to generate 79 jobs after Tyton invests $36 million over the next three years in Hoke, Wake and other surrounding counties.

Editor’s note: Jlm Shamp is director of public relations for the N.C. Biotechnology Center.

(C) NC Biotechnology Center