Durham drug development company Vascular BioSciences (VBS) has hit the big-time, chosen as one of this year’s two most highly innovative biotechnology companies.

This marks the second year in a row in which a young life science company with a North Carolina address has become a BIO International Convention Buzz of BIO contest winner. Last year, Durham-based Novan Therapeutics was one of four “Buzz of BIO” winners for its promising technology for skin healing.

A Nebraska skin therapy company, ProTransit Nanotherapy, was the other 2015 Buzz winner.

The Washington, D.C.-based BIO organization announced the 2015 winners Thursday, to recognize the two most highly innovative companies in the biotech sector for this year, in two separate categories. VBS won in the “Pipelines of Promise” category, and ProTransit won in the “Technologies of Tomorrow” group.

Representatives of the winning companies will get a free convention access pass and a prestigious spot on stage at BIO 2015, hosted by theBiotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), where they’ll have 15 minutes to tell thousands of convention-goers what makes them star-quality contenders. BIO 2015, the global event for biotechnology, will take place June 15 through 18 this year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center organizes the North Carolina Pavilion each year for the BIO convention, bringing a wide range of the state’s companies together in one place to display the state’s importance and opportunities to the sector globally.

VBS was started in San Diego in 1995, and established R&D facilities in Durham in 2008. It’s developing solutions for difficult-to-treat cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. ProTransit is developing miniscule nano-scale delivery particles for various therapeutics.

“The Buzz of BIO competition spotlights emerging companies and provides a platform for them to meet potential new investors and partners through their exposure at BIO 2015, which will enable them to bring their product one step closer to helping the patients they aim to serve,” said BIO International Convention President Scott Whitaker. “We are thankful to the thousands of voters and most importantly to all of our nominees for their commitment to building and driving a robust biotech industry.”

BIO is the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

(C) NC Biotechnology Center

Note: Veteran journalist Jim Shamp is director of public relations for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.