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New $100K NCBiotech Grant Spotlights Marketable Inventions

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has inaugurated a new grant program to help evaluate the likelihood of commercial success for life science inventions from universities and non-profit research organizations statewide.

The Biotechnology Innovation Grant (BIG) provides up to $100,000 to full-time faculty scientists at North Carolina universities. The grants require a 10 percent match as well as a partnership between the scientist receiving the award and one or more business partners.

The grants are to help inventors and their commercialization partners prepare for patenting and/or to conduct other pre-marketing studies to determine whether their intellectual property is viable. The funding will help them look for potential weaknesses, provide go/no-go decision points, look for ways to enhance value, and position their inventions for subsequent commercialization funding.

Commercialization partners are likely to include:

  • On-campus business specialists, such as MBA teams with faculty advisors or entrepreneurs in residence
  • Serial entrepreneurs experienced in start-up management
  • Investors with experience serving on the boards of startup companies
  • Investors with experience managing venture capital funds

The BIG award precedes NCBiotech’s other funding programs such as the Technology Enhancement Grant, which typically would support later-stage technologies being managed by the universities’ technology transfer offices.

“We’ve designed this award to be a tightly focused first stage in our suite of grants and loans that enable more of our state’s life science innovation to move from the lab to the marketplace”, said Kenneth Tindall, Ph.D., NCBiotech’s senior vice president, science and business development.

Christopher Brown, Ph.D., vice president for research and graduate education for the University of North Carolina System and a member of the NCBiotech board of directors, contributed to the new grant program’s final design.

“The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has always been an innovative leader for this state in finding creative ways to commercialize life science research,” said Brown. “The Biotechnology Innovation Grant is an important foundation for us to bring great ideas to life – ideas that indeed may ultimately save lives.”

The BIG awards target projects lasting six to 18 months. They’ll be offered twice a year, in July and February, starting in July 2015. Applications will be evaluated by an external advisory panel of experts in commercializing life science products and/or services. 

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