RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 11 grants and loans totaling $623,136 to bioscience companies, universities and nonprofit organizations in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.

The awards, made in July, August and September, will support life science technology commercialization and intellectual exchange throughout North Carolina.

COMPANY LOANS AWARDED

Three bioscience companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $600,000. The program supports business inception and research leading to the development of products, processes or tools with clear commercial potential.

  • Cell Microsystems of Durham received $250,000 to develop and commercialize two new applications of its AIR System, a single-cell analysis platform used for single-cell expression analysis, characterization of large genome variations, T cell screening, genomics studies and gene editing.
  • RainBio of Raleigh received $100,000 to develop its first gene therapeutic candidate. The inception-stage company is developing technology to prevent and reverse loss of vision frequently associated with lysosomal storage disorders.
  • Vizigen Therapeutics of Research Triangle Park received $250,000 to develop a monoclonal antibody that targets asprosin, an appetite-regulating hormone, for the potential treatment of rare genetic diseases of obesity.

PORTFOLIO COMPANIES RAISE $32.9 MILLION

Sixteen life science companies that previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised $32.9 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the first quarter, according to research by the Biotech Center’s Life Science Intelligence staff.

Accounting for about half of that total were Locus Biosciences of Durham, which raised about $12.5 million in debt financing, and BioAesthetics Corp. of Research Triangle Park, which raised more than $4.5 million in venture capital.

Altogether, 65 bioscience companies across North Carolina raised $138 million in the first quarter from all sources including debt financing, venture capital, federal grants and collaborations and licensing, but not including Biotech Center loans.

The largest transactions involved Metabolon of Morrisville, which raised $21.8 million in venture capital; G1 Therapeutics of Research Triangle Park, which received a $20 million up-front cash payment for a product licensing agreement; and Arbiom of Durham, which raised $10.8 million in venture capital.

MEETING AND EVENT GRANTS AWARDED

Universities and nonprofit organizations received eight grants totaling $23,136 to sponsor regional events or national meetings in the life sciences.

  • East Carolina University received $3,000 for the virtual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium, hosted by ECU and Elizabeth City State University.
  • North Carolina State University received $2,500 for the 2020 Molecular Biotechnology Research Symposium.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $5,000 for the 4th International Conference on Epigenetics and Bioengineering (EpiBio 2020).
  • UNC-Chapel Hill received $3,000 for the 9th Annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium.
  • UNC-Chapel Hill received $1,400 for the 2020 Triangle Cytoskeleton Meeting.
  • The North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research received $3,000 for Bridging the Gap: Uniting North Carolina K-16 STEM Education, 9th Annual Conference.
  • Organic Growers School received $3,000 for the Harvest Conference on organic growing and sustainable living.
  • Science Happens 4 Me received $2,236 for SMART STEM workshops.

Source: NC Biotech Center awards $623K in grants; its portfolio firms raise nearly $33M | WRAL TechWire