NCBiotech Awards $1.4 Million in Grants, Loans in Latest Quarter

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 17 grants and loans totaling nearly $1.4 million to universities, bioscience companies and other organizations in the second quarter of its current fiscal year.

The awards, made from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, 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.

Company loans

NCBiotech awarded three companies Small Business Research Loans, each for $250,000. The loan program supports business inception and research leading to the development of products, processes or tools with clear commercial potential.

  • UVision360 of Raleigh is using the loan to commercialize its Luminelle Hysteroscopy system for both diagnostic and operative hysteroscopy and cystoscopy. 
  • Higgs Boson Health of Durham is developing a cloud-based platform to improve healthcare through greater engagement of patients, physicians and medical device manufacturers in preparation for, and recovery from, complex invasive medical surgeries. 
  • Continuous Precision Medicine of Research Triangle Park is developing a novel comprehensive software platform to monitor for, and prevent, opioid misuse and abuse.

University grants

NCBiotech awarded seven grants totaling $623,683 to five universities throughout the state to advance bioscience research. 

The Center awarded four Biotechnology Innovation Grants totaling $398,800 to support research studies that explore potential commercial applications of early-stage university inventions.

  • North Carolina State University received $99,230 to develop novel antibacterial agents for treating multi-drug-resistant pathogens.
  • Duke University Medical Center received $100,000 to improve the oral bioavailability and in vivo efficacy of a novel, drug-like molecule for treating rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • UNC Charlotte received $100,000 to develop soybean seed coatings that provide efficient, environment-friendly and reliable strategies for managing soybean cyst nematodes, a devastating roundworm pest.
  • Western Carolina University received $99,570 to refine infrared detection and chemical analysis methods for the rapid and accurate detection of disease-carrying mosquitoes, including those that transmit regional and global emerging viral diseases such as dengue, Zika and La Crosse encephalitis.

The Biotech Center awarded three Technology Enhancement Grants totaling $224,883 to support research studies that will strengthen the technologies’ licensing positions for commercially promising inventions.

  • Duke University received $74,902 to develop a miniature mass spectrometer capable of analyzing atoms, molecules and atomic isotopes. The portable instrument is intended to help food producers, distributors and vendors verify the authenticity of their products.
  • Duke University Medical Center received $75,000 to develop a new type of antibody for diagnosing and treating fibrotic diseases. The antibody has demonstrated potential benefits in human heart, lung, and liver fibrotic tissues. It appears to have effects only on a certain type of activated cells and not in normal cells.
  • The University of North Carolina Greensboro received $74,981 to develop a chip-based nano-opto-fluidic biosensor for protein biomarkers of cardiovascular disease in blood samples. The technology could provide a cheaper, faster and more accurate point-of-care device to help first responders, clinicians and others diagnose heart attacks.

Meeting and event grants

The Center awarded three Biotechnology Meeting Grants totaling $16,882 to three universities hosting national or international meetings. 

  • East Carolina University received $2,200 for an agricultural safety and health Symposium.
  • UNCG received $7,682 for a research retreat on anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
  • The University of North Carolina Wilmington received $7,000 for Fish 2.0: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Fisheries, Coastal Management and Aquaculture – Atlantic Coast Workshop.

NCBiotech awarded four Biotechnology Event Sponsorships totaling $8,370 to support life-science events held primarily for a North Carolina audience.

  • ECU received $1,000 for a U.S./Brazil/China agricultural biotechnology workshop.
  • Duke University Medical Center received $1,370 for a Triangle Zebrafish Group annual retreat.
  • UNC-CH received $3,000 for the Eighth Annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium.
  • UNC-CH also received $3,000 for the 2019 Integrative Vascular Biology and UNC McAllister Heart Institute Annual Research Symposium.

Portfolio companies raise $26M in follow-on funding

Eleven bioscience companies that previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised about $26.3 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 most of that total was Durham-based Ribometrix, which raised about $15 million in venture capital. Ribometrix develops small-molecule therapeutics that directly target RNA to treat diseases.

Spyryx Biosciences of Durham raised nearly $6 million in venture capital. The company is developing novel therapeutics for severe pulmonary diseases.

Also raising up to $500,000 in venture capital each were Akros Medical of Durham, Flag Therapeutics of Raleigh, InnAVasc Medical of Durham and Redbud Labs of Research Triangle Park.

Bioscience companies across North Carolina collectively raised $962 million in the quarter from all sources including venture capital, federal grants, initial public offerings of stock, acquisitions and debt financing. Three companies accounted for more than three-quarters of that total:

  • BioAgilytix Labs of Durham was acquired by Cobepa, a privately held investment company based in Brussels, through a $280 million leveraged buyout in December. BioAgilytix is a bioanalytical testing laboratory specializing in large-molecule bioanalysis.
  • Avista Pharma Solutions, a contract development and manufacturing organization with operations in Durham, reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by Cambrex for $252 million in November. Cambrex, based in East Rutherford, N.J., has a facility in High Point that manufactures small-molecule therapeutics.
  • HyperBranch Medical Technology of Durham was acquired by Stryker for $220 million in October. HyperBranch is a medical device company that develops and markets products mainly for traumatic or surgically induced wounds.
Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
Mon, 01/28/2019 - 14:52