DURHAM – To sum up the five winners of the latest $50,000 grants from NC IDEA, they are diverse.

Companies include a “cottonized” textile startup that makes hemp fibers for apparel design, a web platform to help people represent themselves in court, an engineering startup that offers simulation software for 3D printing and manufacturing that reduces the design cycle, an app for the construction industry to democratize site plans and information at job sites, and a company that “dewaters” animal manure.  NC IDEA awarded $250,000 total to the five companies.

The recipients:

  • Phinite: a breakthrough in manure handling
  • ExLattice, 3D printing
  • Courtroom5: access to justice for people without a lawyer
  • Vizla helps construction workers do what they do best: Build
  • Bear Fiber: Farm to Fiber

The Foundation announced the five recipients of the Fall 2018 NC IDEA SEED grants today, the latest in 26 grant cycles since the organization began grant-making efforts in 2006.  Companies receive up to $50,000 to support their business activities in order to validate target markets.

Each of the five will be featured in profiles by WRAL TechWire later today.

WRAL TechWire photo

Thom Ruhe (WRAL TechWire photo by Rick Smith)

“The newest cohort of NC IDEA SEED grant recipients is a great representation of the breadth of entrepreneurship across the state,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO of NC IDEA, in a statement.  “Our continued expansion and growing partnership across the state resulted in an eclectic and diverse group of companies that are positioned to quickly grow, create jobs and positively impact the state’s economy.”

The NC IDEA SEED evaluation process is rigorous and competitive.  The Fall 2018 grant cycle began in August, with NC IDEA visiting seven communities across the state to provide information sessions about how to apply and hosting open virtual office hours for any companies unable to attend an information session.

Applications were due by September 10, and according to Ruhe, 158 entrepreneurs applied for NC IDEA SEED grants this cycle.  The five recipients were selected from 11 finalists.

“This group of finalists is perhaps one of our most diverse for the types of organizations advancing.  It defies a convenient generalization, which is great,” Ruhe declared on Oct. 31.

Since the inception of NC IDEA in 2006, NC IDEA SEED has awarded and distributed nearly $6 million in grant funding to 136 companies across North Carolina.  According to the organization, nearly 70 percent of these companies are still operating and collectively these companies have raised more than $220 million in equity and non-dilutive funding and generated more than 1,000 new jobs in the state.