RTP startup SiNON Therapeutics is one of 10 national finalists competing for $70,000 in prize money in the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER Business Challenge pitch event.

SiNON, which won a local event in Raleigh at the Pinkubator in June, was picked for the finals after competing in a semifinal round. The finalists were determined after a review of 120 submissions and were announced by the SBA in Washington on Thursday. Afreen Allam, CEO of SiNON Therapeutics, will make the pitch for her company.

Crystal Harris with Brauxiliary in Charlotte, is also a finalists. Her firm has developed the Brauxiliary Hands-Free Pumping Band, a bra attachment that turns any bra into a hands free pumping bra.

SBA Administrator Linda McMahaon said the finalists were led by “entrepreneurs who demonstrate extraordinary innovation and talent. Small businesses are the engines of our economy and the SBA is proud to advocate on their behalf and ensure they have the tools they need to start, grow and succeed.”

Accolades have come to SiNON in a number of ways, including the winning of a grant from the NC IDEA Foundation.

The finals will take place on Oct. 26 in the nation’s capital. Funding for three awards totaling $70,000 come from the Sara Blakely Foundation.

SiNON’s technology

SiNON has developed a novel method of crossing the blood brain barrier, which is effective, non-invasive, and most importantly can be utilized by almost all drugs (making even retroactive application possible). It is a platform technology. SiNON is dedicated to improving the lives of those who suffer from debilitating neurological diseases by increasing the ability of drugs to cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB).

“Our patented nanoparticle, the Carbon Dot, will enable pharmaceutical companies to encapsulate their drugs in a way, which dramatically improves drug-localization to the brain,” Allam says.

“This allows for a reduction in overall dose administration to the patient, leading to reduced toxicity risk and side effects while improving therapeutic index and cost-efficacy. What makes our delivery mechanism so unique is that due to its amphiphilic nature it can passively diffuse across the BBB.

“Considering the rapid growth of the senior population, and subsequent increase in neurological disease, we believe that our novel technology is an essential part of the overall solution to this healthcare crisis.”

The field

The other finalists:

  • ​Alexa Jones with TheraB Medical, East Lansing, Mich. – TheraB Medical is a startup working to launch its first product, SnugLit a wearable, portable solution to infant jaundice that promotes maternal-infant bonding and breastfeeding while covering nearly twice the surface area of traditional methods.
  • Marna Pacheco and Susan Hickok with CapeAble Sensory Products, Fort Wayne, Ind. – CapeAble Sensory Products, LLC manufactures and sells weighted blankets, weighted wearables, and sensory enrichment tools.      
  • Bianca Cerqueira and Lauren Cornell with Novo Thelium, San Antonio, Texas – NovoThelium enables women to regenerate a nipple made from their own cells after a mastectomy.
  • Zayira Jordan with GuardDV, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico – GuardDV seeks to help enforce court-issued restraining orders in favor of domestic violence survivors. The system integrates RFID and GPS technologies to track the aggressor and warn the potential victim and the corresponding law enforcement organizations about the physical proximity of the aggressor.
  • Jenna Ryan with Uqora, LLC, San Diego, Calif. – Uqora™ gives women the defense they need against bacteria that causes urinary tract infections (UTIs), keeping them out of the doctor’s office and off antibiotics.
  • Jamelah Tucker with EasyPeasie, LLC, Jacksonville, Fla. – Easy Peasie, LLC is committed to providing families simple, natural, convenient, and fun ways to improve every meal with added vegetable nutrition.  
  • Jessica Dehn with Dino Drop In, Bozeman, Mont. – Dino Drop-In is childcare built to fit the lifestyle of busy families and ever-changing work schedules.
  • Jamie Clark with The Willie Wags, Bangor, Maine – The Willie Wags is a quirky and fun subscription service that supports female entrepreneurs and women-owned small businesses.

Learn more about the event:


  • ​VIDEO: Watch an overview of SiNON at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVSj1PCLyqo