Three faculty-led startups at UNC-Chapel Hill are moving closer to commercialization after receiving more than $89,000 in funding from the university’s KickStart Venture Services program.

The recipients with summaries provided by UNC:

  • AnelleO is developing Anelleo PRO, which is the first 3D printed intravaginal ring to treat a women’s health condition. AnelleO was founded by Rahima Benhabbour, professor at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and graduate student Rima Janusziewicz from the chemistry department.
  • Sandbar Oyster Company is commercializing a novel biodegradable composite material designed to restore oyster habitats, reverse the decline in oyster populations, protect the shoreline and revitalize the oyster industry as part of the coastal marketplace. Sandbar was founded by Niels Lindquist, professor at the UNC Institute of Marine Science, and commercial fisherman David “Clammerhead” Cessna.
  • SeqQuest has developed a software solution for single cell RNA sequencing analysis called RNAQuest. SeqQuest was formed by co-founders Joshua Starmer, associate research professor in the Department of Genetics, and Scott Magness, associate professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering with UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.

“These awards will help them complete high-impact projects based on University intellectual property,” the univesrity notes. The funding comes through the UNC Office of Commercialization and Economic Development.

“As faculty founders of startup companies work to meet critical milestones on their journey to take ideas to market, the KickStart Commercialization Awards are a catalyst for their continued innovation,” says Judith Cone, Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at UNC. “These awards offer great flexibility for faculty to focus on both technology development and business strategy, both of which are critical for accelerating novel ideas that have the promise of becoming valuable devices, treatments and therapies that improve many lives.”

The program has helped 56 such startups with more than $1.8 million in funding.

UNC sees the grants as a way for ventures to develop to the point of attracting other funding such as federal SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants. According to the university, the 56 startups have generated some $20 million in federal grants and $137 million in funding overall.

“The Commercialization Award program provides crucial early-stage funding for startups from UNC-Chapel Hill,” noted Don Rose, Director of KickStart Venture Services. “The award enables the companies to build prototypes, obtain preliminary data for SBIR grants or launch a beta program. It is a stepping stone that propels the companies to be more attractive for funding from government grants and angel and venture capital investors.”