One of the most diverse lists to date of startups – from location to focus on attention – makes up the 26 semifinalists for grants worth up to $50,000 per firm from NC IDEA.

Not only are several coastal emerging companies included but also life science-focused to medical, software and more.

NC IDEA, an economic development group based in Durham, has made more than $6 million in non-dilutive grants divded into twice-annual rounds of awards over the past decade.

The latest group was selected from 173 applications.

“This was one of the largest and most diverse pool of applicants we have had in the history of this program,” said Thom Ruhe, who earlier this year took over as CEO of NC IDEA. “North Carolina is incredibly fortunate to have so many creative and ambitious people pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations. As we have limited resources, we had to narrow the field and we look forward to working with the group of 26 semi-finalists as they move along the process.”

The 26 NC IDEA Spring 2016 Grant Cycle semi-finalists include:

  • BioMetrix – Durham, NC
  • Copula Systems – Durham, NC
  • Deep Blue Medical Advances – Durham, NC
  • FarmShots – Raleigh, NC
  • Gryppers – Raleigh, NC
  • LineHire – Chapel Hill, NC
  • LUMEOVA – Raleigh, NC
  • MD Benchmark – Raleigh, NC
  • microSiO – Durham, NC
  • MoneyComb – Durham, NC
  • Neurun – Durham, NC
  • Papirys – Swansboro, NC
  • Personalized Learning Games – Durham, NC
  • PodKeeper – Charlotte, NC
  • Polymer Braille – Raleigh, NC
  • Premirr Plastics – Chapel Hill, NC
  • ProAxion – Apex, NC
  • Romr – Chapel Hill, NC
  • Roobrik – Durham, NC
  • Sandbar Oyster Company – Morehead City, NC
  • Shipedge – Durham, NC
  • Sportscale – Greenville, NC
  • Trakex – Raleigh, NC
  • Treadwell Corporation – Wilmington, NC
  • Trill Financial – Durham, NC
  • WebHearing – Greenville

The semifinalists will submit more detailed information about business plans this month with a review panel picking winners that will be announced in June.

In addition to $50,000, the winners will receive mentoring, use of MBA interns, and a variety of in-kind services from lawyers, attorneys as well as marketing consultants.

Here’s a look at two of the semifinalists as reported by the N.C. Biotechnology Center’s Jim Shamp:

  • Deep Blue Medical Advances

Durham’s Deep Blue Medical Advances, founded in 2014 as an incubator for developing various medical device inventions emanating from Duke University, is the sole bioscience-related semifinalist in the competition.

Howard Levinson, M.D., a Duke associate professor of plastic surgery, founded Deep Blue in the First Flight Venture Center on Davis Drive. He says ongoing Deep Blue projects include an anti-biofouling Foley catheter, a hernia mesh with enhanced anchoring strength, non-invasive light imaging technology to diagnose skin disorders, and tissue-engineered skin that resists contraction.

  • Sandbar Oyster Company

Sandbar licenses patent rights from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on new substrate materials to be used for settling and growing oysters. The company aims to improve production of oysters for consumer markets and the restoration of oyster habitats. It’s conducting a large-scale field test funded by the university’s Office of Technology Development.

The company was among presenters in October 2015 at the sixth annual International BioMarine Business Convention in Wilmington. The event was brought to Wilmington through the collaborative efforts of the convention owners, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and one of NCBiotech’s sector-building initiatives, the Wilmington-based Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation.