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Zen-Bio Thrives on NCBiotech, SBIR Support

By Susan Poulos, NCBiotech Writer

 

-- Zen-Bio photo

Zen-Bio, a Research Triangle Park biotech company, will celebrate its 20-year anniversary in 2015.

That's a real accomplishment, considering many biotechnology companies that started in 1995 have merged, been acquired or gone by the wayside.

What started as a small drug development company is today a leading provider of research tools and services for the study of human diseases. It performs research for major global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and continues to grow its research product and service offerings.

COO Will Plentl recalls the company’s early days when the North Carolina Biotechnology Center provided loans, connections, and guidance on the business path. “This funding gave us the cash to develop programs to continue growth, and which led us to find opportunities for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding. We’ve been successful in getting Phase I and Phase II through the pipeline for 100 percent commercialization.”

Since Zen-Bio’s inception, NCBiotech has provided two Collaborative Funding Grants totaling $250,000 to research scientists who helped the company commercialize technologies; $235,000 in loans, and $95,960 in Industrial Fellowships. The return on investment is substantial; in recent years, Zen-Bio has received numerous SBIR grants, including:

  • Two large National Institutes of Health grants totaling nearly $1.9 million Phase II SBIR grants to help commercialize its line of synthetically grown human cells for use by scientists studying obesity, diabetes, and common cancers;
  • A $200,000 Phase I SBIR grant to develop a way to differentiate breast cancer cell types, improving the way they are isolated and cultured.

Plentl says, “NCBiotech stands as a valuable resource for information, expertise, potential funding, mentoring, tools and connections. The support we’ve received has helped advance our technology toward the marketplace. The value NCBiotech brings to the North Carolina community — and to the world — through this support is undeniable.”


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