WINSTON-SALEM – Winston-Salem-based Plakous Therapeutics has won the 2022 NC BIONEER Venture Challenge. The announcement was made at Triad BioNight, a celebration of the region’s life sciences community organized by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s Piedmont Triad Office.

As the winner of this year’s first statewide challenge, Plakous will receive $40,000 to be used as it seeks additional funding for the commercialization of its placenta-driven regenerative healing products.

Two years ago the pre-clinical regenerative medicine company received a grant from the National Institutes of Health of up to $1,725,000 to help it develop its novel therapy targeting a rare disease in premature babies. Its human placenta-derived regenerative therapies is initially focused on Protego-PD, a platform product to treat a devastating and costly disease of premature babies called necrotizing enterocolitis.

“The Plakous executive team was highly engaged in all aspects of this venture challenge,” said Nancy Johnston, NCBiotech’s executive director for the Piedmont Triad Region. “They leveraged the resources, listened to their mentors’ expertise and crafted a two-minute pitch to help tell their story. The benefits gained and visibility earned will help them progress toward commercialization.”

5 NC startups to compete for $40,000 prize in BIONEER Venture challenge

The challenge

The BIONEER Venture Challenge began as a regional effort to support local biotechnology startups in southeastern North Carolina. This year, NCBiotech expanded the competition to five of its six regions. The headquarters’ Research Triangle area was not included.

The Challenge provided the regional offices the opportunity to identify and support innovative life sciences research activities across the state. It also allowed entrepreneurs participating in the challenge to progress toward commercialization.

“We had a great selection of applications for this year’s NC Bioneer Venture Challenge, covering a broad range of biotech-related activities,” said Mark Phillips, NCBiotech’s vice president of statewide operations and executive director of the Eastern Office. “The last several months have provided an opportunity for the ventures to receive intense mentoring and an opportunity to work with a coach to refine their pitch in preparation for the challenge, as well as the ability to work with NCBiotech’s Life Science Intelligence unit.

In addition to Plakous’s first-place win, four other companies won various levels of prize money in the NC BIONEER Venture Pitch Showcase:


Piedmont Triad bioscience leaders honored with awards at Triad BioNight

BIONEER partners provide ecosystem support to finalists

NCBiotech partnered with organizations across the state to support finalists as they prepared for the regional and statewide pitches.

These partners include:

  • Agile City
  • East Carolina University
  • Flywheel Coworking
  • Hatch
  • Hatchworks
  • Launch Greensboro
  • Pitt County Economic Development
  • The University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Venture Asheville

Winston-Salem’s Plakous Therapeutics lands $1.7M fast-track SBIR grant

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