A local biotech entrepreneurship program that launched in 2020 is expanding statewide.
The NC BIONEER Venture Challenge, founded by the N.C. Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office and UNCW's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is now available to early-stage ventures in the state, according to a press release Tuesday.
The program will be carried out by N.C. Biotechnology Center regional offices including Eastern, Greater Charlotte, Piedmont Triad, Southeastern and Western. It aims to highlight innovative biotech companies in North Carolina.
Finalists of the program will receive a monetary award totaling $40,000 per region ($20,000 for the top award and $10,000 for second and third places), mentoring assistance, participation in a public venture pitch, expert assistance and more. Finalists of the Southeastern region also get a 12-month tenancy at the UNCW CIE.
“Venture applications for this challenge will represent a broad range of biotech-related innovations and applications, with connections to agriculture, bioenergy, health/medical, advanced materials, industrial biotech, waste-to-energy, technology, and marine biotech,” the release stated.
Participation in the program includes a two-month process of mentoring, pitch coaching and other assistance.
Past winners are all from Wilmington and include Isosceles Pharmaceuticals, a developer of synthetic CBD to relieve pain who took the top award; AccuGenomics, developing personalized health assessments; Electronic Lab Logs for biotech lab management; and IndiOmics, providing a kit for testing personal chemical exposures.
“The venture finalists for the inaugural challenge were exceptional and showed a broad range of biotech-related commercialization activities and opportunities in Southeastern North Carolina,” Randall Johnson, executive director of N.C. Biotech’s Southeastern Office, said in the release. “Now, we’re thrilled to roll out the initiative across North Carolina."
"This initiative showcases and strengthens the region's and state’s impressive community of innovators and entrepreneurs and helps young companies progress toward attracting investment to boost commercialization of biotech innovations and create high-paying jobs across our region and all of North Carolina," he added.
Applications are now open
through Feb. 25 until 5 p.m. Regional Venture Pitch Showcases and winners will be announced May 24-26 and the statewide pitch and winner will be announced in June.