SBIR, STTR Grants Boost N.C. Life-Science Companies
By Jeremy Summers, NCBiotech Writer
Many young life-science companies in North Carolina can be made or broken by the types of grants they receive.
These grants fund early research and help take a company from the planning phase to getting the seed, angel, venture and other investment capital to take their product or service to market.
Two of the most helpful grants for these types of companies are Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.
Along with loans and guidance from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, SBIR and STTR grants are significant sources of early-stage technology development and funding for commercializing a product. SBIR and STTR awards top $2 billion each year for small businesses nationwide.
SBIR grants award federal funds to small businesses (defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees) for R&D that will lead to the commercialization of their technologies.
Similarly, STTR grants expand public/private partnerships by awarding funds that allow technologies developed at a nonprofit research institution, like a university, to be commercialized through a small, for-profit business.
Additionally, North Carolina is one of the few states to offer matching funds to grant recipients. The One North Carolina Small Business Program matches up to $100,000 to in-state businesses that are also awarded SBIR or STTR grants.
The One North Carolina Fund is a grant program launched in 2005 by the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Office of Science and Technology.
According to Commerce, the program is responsible for creating or retaining more than 485 high-wage private-sector jobs and helping more than 200 small businesses commercialize products in technology-based industries, such as biotech.
The following life-science companies have benefitted from this program:
- Advanced Liquid Logic, based in Durham, is developing its “lab-on-a-chip” technology, which makes biological testing more efficient.
- Alderon Biosciences, based in Newport, has developed a small, portable platform for medical diagnostic testing.
- Cognosci, based in Research Triangle Park, develops anti-inflammatory compounds for many serious diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis.
- Grassroots Biotechnology, based in Durham, analyzes plant root structure to increase agronomic productivity of crops.
- KeraNetics, based in Winston-Salem, creates keratin-based products for use in therapeutic and regenerative medicine.
- Novan, based in Durham, develops chemical entities to treat diseases where nitric oxide can affect more than one aspect of the disease pathology.
- Semprius, based in Durham and Henderson, creates high-efficiency biophotonic materials that can concentrate the sun’s energy up to 1,100 times, which allows for cost-effective solar panels.
- Southeast TechInventures, based in Research Triangle Park, works with university-based inventors to accelerate the commercialization of intellectual property in the areas of biotechnology, medical devices, and nanotechnology.
- SoyMeds, based in Charlotte, has manipulated the genetics of soybeans to create numerous medical applications, such as vaccines and efficient diagnostic testing.
- ZenBio, based in Durham, provides research tools, such as primary cell cultures, to researchers studying human metabolic diseases.