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NC Biotech Center awards $1.8M in grants, loans to startups, universities

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 13 grants and loans totaling $1.8 million to universities and bioscience companies in the third quarter of its current fiscal year.

The awards, made from January to March, will support life science research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina. The funding will also help universities and companies attract follow-on funding from other sources.


Three companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $600,000. The loan program supports business inception and research leading to the development of products, processes or tools with clear commercial potential.

  • BioMedInnovations of Denver, N.C., received $250,000 for product development of CaVESWave, its organ-preservation system, for supporting kidney transport. The system is a programmable class II medical device featuring a simulated heart rhythm pressure wave that perfuses a warm oxygenated red blood cell solution at a controlled temperature and pH.
  • MitoRainbow Therapeutics of Cary received $100,000 to develop a drug candidate for treating genetic deficiency of thymidine kinase 2, a mitochondrial metabolic disease that results in loss of mitochondria function, severe myopathy and early death in children.
  • Tellus Therapeutics of Research Triangle Park received $250,000 to develop a treatment for perinatal white matter injury, a factor leading to neurodevelopmental deficit in premature births. The company’s lead molecule has been shown to promote myelination and subsequent reversal of motor deficits in animal models of white matter injury.

One other company, Cereius of Durham, received a $500,000 Strategic Growth Loan. Cereius will use its loan to develop a novel platform of radio-labeled, brain-penetrant targeting peptides that will address solid tumor brain metastasis. It’s initially targeting HER2-positive breast cancer brain metastases.


Nine bioscience companies that previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised more than $47.5 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the quarter, according to research by the Biotech Center’s Life Science Intelligence staff.Accounting for nearly half of that total was Contego Medical, which raised about $22.3 million in venture capital. Contego is a Raleigh-based medical device company that’s developing products for endovascular medicine.

Locus Biosciences of Morrisville raised $15 million in bank debt financing to fund a 12,000-square-foot expansion. The company is developing precision anti-bacterial therapies.

Seven companies won research grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling $10.2 million.

The $47.5 million raised by NCBiotech portfolio companies in the third quarter compares to $35.6 million raised in the same quarter a year ago, $98.6 million two years ago and $25.9 million three years ago.

Bioscience companies across North Carolina collectively raised $1.8 billion in the latest third quarter from all sources including venture capital, federal grants, initial public offerings of stock, acquisitions and debt financing, but not including Biotech Center loans.

However, one transaction accounted for the vast majority of that total: Wilmington-based PPD’s $1.62 billion IPO. Excluding that IPO, the quarterly total was $172.6 million – comparable to last quarter’s $211 million.


Seven universities throughout the state received grants totaling $712,973 in the third quarter to advance bioscience research. The awards were given through two programs: Innovation Impact Grants, which support the purchase of research equipment for core facilities, fostering innovation within North Carolina’s life science ecosystem; and FLASH Grants, which support creative ideas that show early indications of commercial potential.

Three universities received Innovation Impact Grants:

  • Duke University Medical Center received $200,000 for hardware components that will allow expansion of Duke’s high-performance computing facility, enabling health and life science researchers to extract insight from increasingly massive genomics datasets.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $200,000 to acquire a state-of-the-art Biacore 8K Biosensor that will help North Carolina scientists in academia and industry discover new drugs and biotherapeutics.
  • Wake Forest University Health Sciences received $199,596 for a new cutting-edge rodent metabolic cage system that will allow scientists to better understand the metabolic mechanisms that underlie diabetes and obesity.

Four universities received FLASH Grants:

  • East Carolina University received $15,970 to test a new method for detoxifying aflatoxin B1 to reduce its ability to contaminate food crops such as corn and ground nuts, and animal feed.
  • North Carolina State University received $20,000 to study a newly discovered pheromone of the highly destructive fall armyworm pest to determine its usefulness in traps for protecting crops from invasive insects.
  • NC State also received $19,962 to develop a newly discovered CRISPR gene-editing tool by precisely describing the tool’s required components, its gene-editing effectiveness, and its usefulness in various organisms.
  • NC State also received $18,500 to study stress-induced tomato root exudation for recruiting beneficial microbes while suppressing pathogenic microbes.
  • UNC Charlotte received $20,000 to make and test perfectly ordered arrays of microspheres embedded on plastic microscope coverslips for super-resolution and visualization of the inner structures of cells, viruses and proteins.
  • The University of North Carolina Wilmington received $18,945 to re-engineer key enzymes in stevia, a plant that yields a natural non-calorie sweetener, to generate new versions of the sweetener.


Source: NC Biotech Center awards $1.8M in grants, loans to startups, universities | WRAL TechWire

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