TechJournal South Header

Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Underground Main space adds another spoke to Durham’s tech hub

Thursday, July 18th, 2013
Underground Main

Underground Main

Durham adds another spoke to its growing reputation as a startup and technology hub today, officially opening a new American Underground location off Main Street called Underground Main.

Located at 201 West Main Street in Durham, the new space is an extension of the award-winning American Tobacco Historic District, home to the original Underground hub. The 22,000-square foot new space opens with 40 startups and has room for 50.

It offers a meeting rooms – one in a former bank vault – something a little different from the usual ping pong table, a 50-foot-slide.

For years we heard tech employees of major firms based in Research Triangle Park – only 10 or 15 minutes from either American Underground – lacked places to grab lunch, drop off your dry cleaning, or meet and chat with colleagues. While IBM and other large tech firms retain their somewhat less populated but still large campuses in the RTP, the startup ecosystem is blossoming in downtown Durham.

Original site designed by Disney

The original American Underground site on the American Tobacco Campus, designed by Disney, complete with a waterfall, running water canal, restaurants, shops and office space, offers much the opposite, a place where entrepreneurs, organizations such as the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and even venture capital firms can easily interact with others. Downtown Durham offers similar, if less fancy amenities.

The Underground model has earned national attention.

Recent visitors include John Biggs (TechCrunch), Joe Klein (TIME), Alexis Madrigal (Atlantic Monthly) and the President’s Council for Jobs and Competitiveness, including G.E’s Jeff Immelt and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

Paul Singh, a venture partner with the national 500 Startups, visited recently, noting, “I’ve rarely seen an entrepreneurial ecosystem as thoughtfully developed or successfully executed as Durham’s American Underground.”

“At the Underground, we want to help launch businesses with truly innovative ways to serve real world needs and see them grow into full-fledged successes that produce good jobs,” says American Underground Chief Strategist Adam Klein.

“It’s no secret that the startup world is sometimes charged with being an ‘echo chamber’ that relies too heavily on hype. There’s not a lot of ‘hype’ here in Durham. Instead, we’re focusing on the pieces that make for real world success: good ideas, access to capital and mentors, and, ultimately, positive deal flow.”

Regional partners

Keen to capitalize on a regional entrepreneurial legacy that includes SAS and Red Hat, Underground leaders have recruited regional partners, including the Research Triangle Park Foundation.

NC IDEA — a catalyst for young, high-growth, North Carolina tech companies — will sponsor relevant content for entrepreneurs via events, networking and other programming.  Both RTP Foundation and NC IDEA are ‘founder’ partners as are Duke University, The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and Self Help Credit Union.

In addition to Duke, university partners include NC Central (which has an office @Main) and NC State (which has one @American Tobacco) as well as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Opening party

Opening party (Thursday, July 18) To highlight the region’s many attractions, including Durham’s burgeoning reputation as a foodie mecca, @Main’s opening party features eats and drinks from a variety of local producers. Railhouse Brewery, for example, is providing pours of its acclaimed craft beers. Republic Wireless is raffling one of its groundbreaking $19 per month mobile phone packages.

@Main’s roster includes: Archive Social, Duke University, Cloudfactory, NCCU,PopUp, Durham Cares, Sovereign’s Capital, Virtue Event Planning/ Tivi Jones Media/ Art of Cool, Zone Five Software, eyeNET Security, Knurture, PRSONAS, InfoHounds, ShiftZen,

Hazard Studios, Text2Give, 519 Games, Robotfactorial, Changemaker Capital, StoreHouse, Trust, LifeKit, Side, Z Shift and Third Track, Open’s Horse, Splitmo, CrowdSearch, Latitude, Growth Partners, Mighty Thumbs, Haiti Hub, Investors Mosaic, CleanHatch.

For more information, please visit www.americanunderground.com.

Investors in SC startups get tax credit – even if they’re not paying SC taxes

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

By Allan Maurer

SCInvestors in early stage companies in South Carolina don’t need to be South Carolina tax payers to receive the substantial 35 percent tax credit available via the High Growth Small Business Access to Capital Act passed the first week in June.

Matt Dunbar, managing director of the Greenville, SC-based Upstate Carolina Network , an angel investor group, tells the TechJournal that investors who don’t pay SC taxes can sell their credit to a business that does. “It’s transferable,” he says. “Folks from out of state can sell the credits and benefit even if they don’t have an SC tax liability.”

Dunbar says the state is in the process of setting up a marketplace for that and it will be available within weeks.

The SC bill is meant to encourage individual angel investors to put money in early-stage, high growth businesses and increase the number of quality, high-paying jobs in the state.

Annual cap per investor

It’s also intended to support businesses commercializing technology developed in the states colleges and universities.

There is an annual cap of $100,000 per investor and $5 million in aggregate. Investors must meet the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s definition of an accredited investor, and no brokerage fees or commissions are allowed.

For businesses to qualify for investments under the bill, they must be headquartered in the state; started within the last five years; employ fewer than 25 people and accrue annual revenues of less than $2 millio

Similar legislation works in other states

The legislation, which the SC House passed 94-10, is similar to bills in about 25 other states, including Georgia and North Carolina. Data from the similar legislation in other states shows the programs are effective in attracting capital, creating jobs, and producing revenue for the state.

The reason such legislation is needed is a persistent early-stage funding gap that leaves many startups struggling to nab seed or Series A financing. Venture Capital firms increasing want the potential for $100 million plus exits and firms with substantial revenue or profitability before they invest, while many angel investors were subdued by the recession.

Dunbar says the total amount available via the bill, $5 million, “Is a great place to start. We’re going to track the metrics so that we have data to go back and increase that amount if it does what we think it’s going to do.”

We recently interviewed Dunbar about the trend of angel investors to form syndicates and do larger deals with wider geographic spread than the typical backyard deals that angel investors have preferred.

 

 

Most of the US South a decade behind in high-wage, high skill jobs requiring post secondary ed

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the United States will require some form of postsecondary education and training, while the South will require 57 percent, according to the new Georgetown study released today.  Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia are the only exceptions.

Postsecondary demand for jobs in the South ranges from 72 percent in Washington D.C. to 43 percent in West Virginia.

While job growth in the South (20 percent) is relatively strong compared to the nation (17 percent), many parts of the region are trapped in an economic cycle known as a low-wage/low-skill equilibrium.  In this equilibrium, high-skill, high-wage industry lacks the incentive to locate in the region and incentives for workers to pursue postsecondary education and training are weakened commensurately.

Once an economy falls behind in producing high-wage, high-skill jobs, it can be difficult to catch up, and the South will need to invest in education and postsecondary training in order to break the cycle.

Educational attainment levels are improving in the South, but the rate of growth is declining.

  • Between 1970 and 2010, the demand for postsecondary education within occupations for the South grew at an average annualized rate of 4 percent (compared to 3 percent for the nation).
  • Between 2010 and 2020 the demand for postsecondary education within occupations is forecast to grow at an average annualized rate of 0.6 percent for the South (compared to 1 percent for the nation).

The study finds that jobs in the South requiring high school or less were lost in the recession and are not coming back.

  • The southern employment profile in construction and in retail was artificially inflated prior to 2007 due to the financial bubble.
  • The South is unlikely to see a full recovery in blue collar construction jobs and retail. This is because the more conservative credit market will ensure that construction and other credit-driven industries will not return to their former employment levels until after 2017. As employment and earnings growth in these industries slow, there will be a commensurate slow growth in consumer-led industries like retail trade.
  • Jobs in many southern states are also concentrated in old-line industries like manufacturing and natural resources, where productivity gains will continue to slow job creation.

The study finds that government, retail and healthcare will continue to be the biggest employers in the South. 

  • The region is home to more than 41 percent (nearly one million) of the jobs in coal mining, natural gas and petroleum extraction. Analysts predict these areas to be the fastest growing job-creators, but they only represent 3 percent of the jobs in the South in the coming decade.
  • Government is the region’s top job provider, projected to grow 16 percent by 2020.
  • Second highest is retail trade, expected to grow by 13 percent by 2020, followed by the healthcare services industry, which will employ seven million people by 2020.

Inadequate demand will ensure brain drain of postsecondary talent to neighboring states, especially from Western Virginia and Louisiana.  Though states are diverse and many are buoyed with natural resource advantages, a large share of the region will need an aggressive multidimensional strategy that mixes educational improvements with economic development.  This multi-faceted approach is necessary because if a state emphasizes education without an emphasis on creating or attracting high-paying and high-skill jobs, brain drain intensifies.

A Decade Behind: Breaking Out of the Low-Skill Trap in the Southern Economy is comprised of a full report which contains a state-by-state analysis and an executive summary. The seventeen state-by-state analysis includes Alabama, Arkansas,Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington D.C. and West Virginia.

 

NC IDEA hosting “office hours for entrepreneurs” Friday mornings

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

NCideaNC IDEA, an organization committed to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina, is hosting Office Hours for Entrepreneurs every Friday morning.

NC IDEA representatives will meet with technology entrepreneurs to advise them and their young companies on applying for a grant and to offer guidance for general business concerns. Since its inception in 2006, NC IDEA’s grants program has awarded over $2.3M to 62 companies across the state.

Office Hour appointments are intended for NC-based entrepreneurs and companies focused on software, information technology, medical devices or material sciences.

Ask questions, get guidance

Entrepreneurs can use these sessions to learn more about the grants process and eligibility requirements; however, it is also an opportunity to ask general business questions and get advice and guidance from experienced mentors that understand the challenges of startups. Appointments are made in 30-minute time increments between 10:00am and 12:00pm every Friday.

NC IDEA hosts these sessions at their office in the American Underground on the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham. Sessions are available starting this Friday, January 6th and are by appointment only. To reserve a time, please visit www.ncidea.org and click the ‘Office Hours’ link found on the homepage.

“This is an opportunity for us to meet companies, have a conversation and get a chance to know one another in advance of seeing their application which is an added benefit for both parties,” said David Rizzo, President and CEO of NC IDEA.

“Office Hours are intended to give entrepreneurs a chance to discuss their eligibility and what they can do to strengthen their application. But even beyond discussing grant-specifics, entrepreneurs can ask questions, bounce off ideas and share their concerns without feeling any pressure.”

NC IDEA’s grants program is a catalyst for technological breakthroughs developed in North Carolina that have a significant potential to successfully transition into commercially viable high-growth enterprises.

The grants, which are up to $50,000 per recipient, support business plan research and development, reduce risk of early failure and advance projects to the point of suitability for angel or venture capital investment.

Grant recipients mentored

In addition to the funding, NC IDEA and its network of seasoned business and technology partners mentor and guide the grant recipients through the complex growth cycles that young companies encounter, while also connecting the startups with other investors, institutions and business leaders to maximize their prospects for commercial success.

The upcoming Spring 2012 grant opportunity for North Carolina based companies will open on February 13th. Learn more about NC IDEA’s grant application process, timeline and criteria atwww.ncidea.org.

Texas gained the most people last year, followed by CA, FL, GA, and NC

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

US Census BureauOne thing marketers always have to take into account is where their consumers are and more of them moved to the sunbelt last year than to any other states.

Texas gained more people than any other state between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011 (529,000), followed by California(438,000), Florida (256,000), Georgia (128,000) and North Carolina (121,000), according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates for states and Puerto Rico.

Combined, these five states accounted for slightly more than half the nation’s total population growth.

“These are the first set of Census Bureau population estimates to be published since the official 2010 Census state population counts were released a year ago,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves.

“Our nation is constantly changing and these estimates provide us with our first measure of how much each state has grown or declined in total population since Census Day 2010.”

The United States as a whole saw its population increase by 2.8 million over the 15-month period, to 311.6 million. Its growth of 0.92 percent between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, was the lowest since the mid-1940s.

“The nation’s overall growth rate is now at its lowest point since before the baby boom,” Groves said.

California remained the most populous state, with a July 1, 2011, population of 37.7 million. Rounding out the top five states were Texas (25.7 million), New York (19.5 million), Florida (19.1 million) and Illinois (12.9 million).

DC led growth

Among states and equivalents, the District of Columbia experienced the fastest growth between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, as its population climbed 2.7 percent. This marks the first time it led states and equivalents in growth since the early 1940s. D.C. ranked 35th in percent growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.

Following D.C. in terms of percent increase between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, were Texas (2.1 percent), Utah (1.9 percent), Alaska (1.8 percent), Colorado (1.7 percent) and North Dakota (1.7 percent). North Dakota was 37th in percent growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.

The only three states to lose population between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, were Rhode Island (1,300 or -0.12 percent),Michigan (7,400 or -0.08 percent) and Maine (200 or -0.01 percent).

Nevada, the nation’s fastest-growing state between 2000 and 2010, ranked only 27th in population growth between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, increasing by 0.8 percent.

During 2012, the Census Bureau will release 2011 estimates of the total population of counties and incorporated places, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.

The Census Bureau develops state population estimates by measuring population change since the most recent census. These are the first set of population estimates to be based on the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau uses births, deaths, administrative records and survey data to develop estimates of population. For more detail regarding the methodology see

T-Mobile grabs 2nd place across 3 regions in JD Power study

Friday, September 16th, 2011

TmobileAs T-Mobile USA, Inc. continues the rapid expansion of its 4G network, J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study, Volume 2, shows that customers in the Northeast, Southeast and West regions are satisfied with an improved network experience, including call quality and messaging and data performance.

In its study, which compares network performance among the largest U.S. wireless carriers, J.D. Power and Associates recently announced that T-Mobile earned the second highest ranking in these three regions covering 32 states, tied in the Northeast.

T-Mobile ranked second out of four in both the Southeast and West regions, and tied in the Northeast. The Northeast region covers the seven states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The Southeast region covers nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The West region covers 16 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

“T-Mobile’s ongoing commitment to making reliable connections available to more Americans continues to pay off as shown by the results of this J.D. Power study,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile USA. “In the past six months, we have continued to advance the performance of our 4G service while also driving improvements in call quality, reliability and the overall experience for our customers.”

The J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study measures consumers’ wireless network experience, based on 10 criteria that impact a carrier’s performance. Wireless phone subscribers surveyed were asked about their experiences with dropped calls, static/interference, connection on first try, immediate voice mail notification, message transmission failures and mobile Web and e-mail connection errors. Call quality and data performance were examined in six regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West.

Results of the 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance StudySM, Volume 2, are based on more than 22,000 Internet survey interviews conducted between January 2011 and June 2011.

COIN seeks materials from NC nanotech firms for DC conference

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

By Brooks Adam

Brooks Adams

Brooks Adams

The Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology (COIN) will be a bronze-level sponsor for the upcoming NNI Nanotechnology Innovation Summit, December 8-10 in Washington DC. It wll also help raise the profile of North Carolina’s nearly 40 nanobiotech and about 50 nanotechnology related firms by bringing along their marketing materials even for those that cannot attend.

COIN is a non-profit that promotes commercialization of nanobiotechnology in North Carolina and beyond. COIN’s programs and services are designed to help accelerate innovation management and new product development.

The upcoming conference celebrates the 10th anniversary of the NNI, and is a gathering of the nation’s top Federal Agencies, Innovators and Investors at the National Nanotechnology Innovation Summit. The Nation’s top nanotech leaders will be showcasing their successes and discussing strategic insights into Nanotechnology challenges and opportunities

COIN will be going there to represent the North Carolina nanobiotech industry and forge relationships to grow the nanobiotech community. If you want our team to help raise the profile of your company because you cannot attend the Summit, please contact clare.valcore@nc-coin.org to  help facilitate getting your materials there. Otherwise, please come by our booth and meet us, as we will be exhibiting. We hope to see many of you there. –

Amazon customer privacy rights upheld, but battle likely to continue

Monday, November 8th, 2010

By Allan Maurer

AmazonSEATTLE – Reports by some media outlets in North Carolina suggest that up to 450 top out-of-state retailers may face audits of their books as the state tries to collect current and back sales taxes from the firms. In late October, however, a federal court judege in Seattle ruled that government requests for detailed information about Amazon.com customers purchases violates their rights of free speech, anonymity and privacy.

The ruling evolved from a lawsuit Amazon filed to stop the NC Department of Revenue (NCDOR) from gathering personally identifiable information about customers that could be linked to their specific Amazon buys.

The case has already disrupted the Internet sector startup community and some established online retailers in North Carolina, who lost their associate status as a result of North Carolina’s attempts to establish “nexus,” a retailer’s physical presence in a state via brick and mortar stores or warehouses and so on, that allows a state to collect sales taxes from the business. North Carolina argued that by having associates in NC, Amazon established nexus. Amazon responded by firing all of its NC associates, spurring some larger sellers to pull up stakes and leave the state.

American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and ACLU of Washington intervened in the Amazon lawsuit on behalf of several Amazon.com customers.

Judge rules NC request violates First Amendment rights

Recognizing that government requests for expressive information can have an unconstitutional chilling effect on constitutionally-protected behavior, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the Western District of Washington at Seattle wrote:

“The First Amendment protects a buyer from having the expressive content of her purchase of books, music, and audiovisual materials disclosed to the government. Citizens are entitled to receive information and ideas through books, films, and other expressive materials anonymously. …The fear of government tracking and censoring one’s reading, listening, and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project said, “This ruling is a victory for privacy and free speech on the Internet. Disclosing the purchase records of Internet users to the government would violate their constitutional rights to read and purchase the lawful materials of their choice, free from government intrusion, and undermine the very basis of American democracy and our cherished freedoms.”

He concluded, “With this ruling, the court emphatically reemphasized what other courts have found before – that government entities cannot watch over our shoulders to see what we are buying and reading.”

While Amazon, its customers and the ACLU may have won this round, it is likely only one battle in an ongoing war as states nationally scrounge for new taxes to bolster recession ravaged state budgets.

We’ll be making calls to the NCDOR and ACLU to follow up on this  story as it unfolds further.

To contact TJS editor/writer Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Here’s the court decision.

More information is available here: Amazon.com vs. Kenneth R. Lay

Lawyers battle over Amazon tax (includes links to many background articles).

PureLux turns on $1M of $2M raise for next gen lights

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

PureLuxCHARLOTTE, NC  - PureLux Inc., a company selling next generation light sources more efficient than incandescents and fluorescents, has raised $1 million of a $2 million equity raise, according to a regulatory filing.

Investors include Wake Forest University and NanoHoldings of Rowayton, CT. PureLux previously received $100,000 from the NC Green Business Fund in 2009.

The company is a spin-out  from the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

PureLux is using nano-composite polymer films that surpasses the efficiency of commonly installed lighting devices.

 Unlike incandescent and fluorescent lights, which lose a significant amount of energy to heat, PureLux lighting is extremely efficient in converting energy directly to light.

 PureLux is already 10 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and 3 times more efficient than common fluorescent bulbs.

The company’s initial product will be a thin-film, plug-compatible replacement for common fluorescent fixtures that not only reduces energy consumption but also produces light of improved color, warmth and appearance.

This new lighting system will be compatible with current electrical circuitry in offices, homes, factories and other facilities.

It disclosed the raise in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

We didn’t find a Web site for the firm.

NC among four states developing most new mental illness drugs

Monday, August 16th, 2010

capitol domeWASHINGTON, DC  – Pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies in North Carolina, California, New York and New Jersey are responsible for 192 of the 313 medicines in development today to treat mental illnesses, a new survey shows.

The study “Medicines in Development for Mental Illnesses” compiled by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) shows 62 medicines in development in New Jersey, 57 in California, 43 in New York and 41 in North Carolina.

The medicines, which are in human clinical testing or their applications are being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, are for addiction, anxiety, dementia, depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, developmental disorders and insomnia.

“The need for these treatments is abundantly clear,” said PhRMA Senior Vice President Jeffrey A. Bond. “Nearly 60 million American adults today suffer from some form of mental illness, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to depression and from schizophrenia to addictive disorders, including dependence on alcohol and drugs.

According to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, serious mental illnesses cost the United States more than $317 billion a year in lost wages, health care expenditures and disability benefits.”

The pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies in New Jersey, California, New York and North Carolina are developing 47 of the 71 medicines for depression, 29 of the 38 anti-anxiety drugs, 63 of the 90 dementia treatments and 36 of the 54 schizophrenia medications.

SEBIO selects semifinalists for biz plan competition

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

SebioATLANTA – Southeast BIO (SEBIO) has selected ten semifinalists in its fourth annual BIO/Plan Competition.

Launched in 2007, the BIO/Plan Competition is a program developed to promote the creation of new life science companies based in the Southeast.

The ten semifinalists were selected from nearly forty total applications. The applicant pool included applications from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

They represent a wide range of technologies including small molecule therapeutics, biologics, diagnostics, and medical devices.  Five of the semifinalists selected are from Georgia, three are from Florida, one is from South Carolina, and one is from Virginia.

The technologies emerged from some of the region’s finest research institutions, including Emory University, Florida International University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Medical College of Georgia, Morehouse School of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, University of Florida, University of Georgia, and University of Virginia.

“Despite the funding crunch, the level of scientific innovation at universities and startup companies remains extremely impressive as seen from the BIO/Plan applications, and this bodes well for an outburst of valuable commercial opportunities that will attract investment dollars from firms like ours,” said Carlos Parajon, managing  partner, Harbor Island Equity Partners .

“This quality of research and innovation leads to investment and growth, which in turn creates more innovation and positive economic outcomes for the region.”

Each semifinalist is now paired with a small mentoring team and beginning the mentorship phase of the Competition.  Each mentoring team includes three or four experienced professionals from active venture funds or angel groups, biotech entrepreneurs and managers, and service providers with relevant start-up expertise.

The mentoring teams directly interact with the semifinalists over a period of 4 months focusing on the strategic development of the business concept and commercial opportunity.

The teams are also supported with additional resources including development plan templates and guidelines, regulatory consultants, and presentation guidelines and examples.  The ultimate goal of the mentoring process is the creation of an executable development strategy and associated written plan. This rigorous mentorship process is the cornerstone of the Competition.

“Every year, our companies brag about SEBIO’s process and the terrific advice they get from the BIO/Plan mentors,” notes Susan Shows, Senior Vice President, Georgia Research Alliance. “This coaching and the visibility to investors is extremely valuable to the region’s early stage companies.”

Following the mentoring process, each of the semifinalists will submit their written development plan to a panel of judges.  Four finalists will then be selected to present at the Twelfth Annual SEBIO Investor Forum, November 3-4, 2010, in Atlanta, Georgia. The finalists will present to the full conference audience, which includes more than 400 industry leaders from across the region, and over 100 investors from the Southeast and around the world.

The finalists will be awarded face-to-face, private meetings with top investors in the region at which time they can more fully promote their investment opportunity and development plan.  One Southeast BIO/Plan Competition winner will be announced and recognized in a special ceremony at the Investor Forum.

More information about the BIO/Plan Competition, the SEBIO Investor Forum, and sponsorship opportunities can be found on the SEBIO website, www.sebio.org.

Hamner says new test better at detecting liver damage

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

The HamnerRESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences (www.thehamner.org), an independent, nonprofit organization that offers an open, collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to translational biomedical research, says that recent studies at The Hamner have provided a new method to assess the health of the liver.

The blood tests physicians currently use to monitor liver health are not always accurate. Even when these tests are abnormal, they often do not indicate the cause of the liver problem.

Research reported in the May issue of Hepatology indicates that there may be a new way to analyze blood to view a window into the health of the liver. Small particles produced by the liver and circulating in the blood contain information that may used to better detect liver injury and could provide unique information to diagnose the cause of the injury.

The research was based on observations originally made by scientists at the drug company Pfizer, which has licensed patent rights for the technology to the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences.

The study can be found at: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123271400/abstract

Solar Energy Initiatives names CEO of subsidiary

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

solarenergyinitiativesPONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – Solar Energy Initiatives Inc. has named David Surette CEO of its Solar Park Initiatives Inc. subsidiary. Surette replaces Michael Gorton, who stepped down July 12.

Surette, founder of Maple Leaf Renewables Group of Raleigh and Texas-based Solar Power Technologies Inc., acted as a consultant to the company previously.

Surette was also previously CEO of Alamo Solar Manufacturing Corp. of Cary, NC.

Solar Energy Intiaitives (OTCBB:SNRY) has inked a letter of intent to lead a $4 million solar project in Georgia.

SNRY Solar is a wholesale distributor of branded photovoltaic and thermal (water heating) systems selling via a network of dealers throughout the United States and the Caribbean. Solar Energy Initiatives also owns SolarEnergy.com, one of the most visited solar websites on the internet .

Dow Chemical commits $5M to Hamner Institutes for chemical safety

Friday, April 9th, 2010

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE:DOW) has committed $5 million over five years to the Hamner Institutes for Health Science to support chemical safety through the development of new computational models of toxicity.

The Hamner Program in Chemical Safety Sciences will leverage funding provided by Dow and other industry partners, along with funding from the American Chemistry Council – for which Dow is a leading member and financial contributor.

The program is based on the 2007 Naitonal Academy of Sciences report, Toxicity Testing in the 21st century. It proposes toxicity testing in human cells assisted by robotic methods that speed the process.

“The goal of The Hamner Institutes is to protect public health through informed decision making about potential environmental health risks,” said Dr. William Greenlee, President and CEO of The Hamner Institutes.

UNC, Synereca Pharma ink first Carolina Express license

Friday, April 9th, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Synereca Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have completed the first Carolina Express License, a new standard agreement the university hopes will foster more new spin-out companies resulting from research on the campus.

Under the Carolina Express License, Synereca will license inventions resulting from research conducted by Associate Professor Scott F. Singleton from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Singleton’s research addresses the growing problem of bacterial resistance to current antibiotics.

“We expect that Synereca is the first of many spin-out companies from Carolina research that will use the Carolina Express License,” said Cathy Innes, director of the University’s Office of Technology Development. “The agreement minimized the time and expense required for a start-up to negotiate with the University, with time and expense being two scarce commodities in the start-up world.”

Innes said interested spin-out companies were prequalified having to satisfy funding, business strategy and management experience thresholds.

“The response has been exceptionally positive across the academic technology-transfer community, as well as from our own faculty,” she said.

We have been writing about antibiotic resistant bacteria and the danger they pose, particularly to hospital patients, for years. Despite this, the development of new antibiotics has slowed to a crawl the last four decades. A number of Southeastern companies are taking unique approaches to the problem, however, including Synereca.

Technology fights antibiotic resistant bacteria

Synereca aims to develop orally active drugs that sustain the efficacy of existing antibiotics by inhibiting the bacterial enzyme RecA.  RecA is a key factor in bacterial DNA repair and in the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance.

About 2 million people contract bacterial infections in U.S. hospitals each year, and 90,000 die as a result. About 70 percent of those infections are resistant to at least one of the major classes of antibiotics previously effective.

“The translation of academic research to commercial products is central to the mission of modern research universities, nowhere more so than in the area of life sciences and therapeutics,” said Tony Waldrop, Ph.D., the University’s vice chancellor for research and economic development.

We expect to see more spin-out companies emerging from UNC labs due to this new Express licensing procedure. You may even read about them here first.

Duke, UNC host start-up business plan contests this week

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
Aaron Patzer

Entrepreneur Aaron Patzer, who sold his start-up for $170 million speaks at Duke tonight

RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – Both Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are hosting competitions for start-ups this week.

The Duke Start-Up Challenge entrepreneurship competition runs throughout the academic year, from November to April. The competition includes an Elevator Pitch Competition in November, an Executive Summary Competition in January, and a live Finals Event in April, with multiple teams winning cash and prizes throughout the competition for the best submissions

The Duke Start-Up Challenge tonight (Thursday, 4/8) has seven finalists presenting to a panel of judges for a $25,000 first prize.

Former Duke student Aaron Patzer, who sold his company mint for $170 million, will present the keynote address at 7:40.

The event is at the Fuqua School of Business Fox Center and Geneen Auditorium.

Finalists are:

Green Wave Sciences - Green Wave Sciences seeks to develop solutions to crop pest problems through the use of electromagnetic radiation.

Rhexis Biomedical - Rhexis Biomedical has developed a disposable surgical instrument that improves the accuracy and reproducibility of cataract surgery, the most commonly performed outpatient surgery in the US.

curvit - curvit fills the gap between online resumes and manually typed and formatted resumes by allowing the user to focus on the content, while curvit manages both online and hardcopy formatting.

Micropower - Imagine running a laptop for 24 hours without plugging into a wall. Micropower is developing an ethanol fueled microengine to increase portability for consumer electronics and government robots.

The Progress and Purity Project - The Progress & Purity Project aims to improve quality of life in northern Afghanistan by empowering women to start businesses, help fellow Afghans through microfinance and handicraft fair trade, and decrease disease through chlorine purification.

Wasabi - Restaurant quality Sushi. Casual dining prices.

Colucci DANZA - Colucci DANZA will revolutionize the ballet pointe shoe market by offering shoes with superior value, safety, comfort

Venture Capital Investment Competition

Dan Primack of PE Hub will be a judge at the VCIC this weekend at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The event, which started in 1998, includes 40 regional U.S. and European competitions leading to the finals.

Unlike many such events aimed at student teams submitting business plans, the VCIC has MBA teams act an investors and judge actual business plans submitted by entrepreneurs. They’re evaluated on their acumen as investors.

A quarter of the startups that present eventually win funding from real investors.

Regional event winners competing this weekend include teams from:

• Brigham Young
• Dartmouth
• Columbia
• Oxford
• Georgetown
• National University of Singapore
• University of Chicago
• University of Colorado
• UNC-Chapel Hill

The winning MBA team gets $10,000.


RJR gifts help Piedmont Triad Research Park expand

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Piedmont Triad Research Park illustrationWINSTON-SALEM, NC – R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is giving the Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem 38 acres of property and $2 million in cash to aid its expansion efforts.

RJR says the gifts are worth a total of $19 million. The company gave the PTRP 16 acres five years ago.

Susan Ivey, chair and CEO of RJR said, ““The property transfer, as well as the $2 million donation, will allow PTRP to continue its master-plan expansion and realize its vision of creating a vibrant life-sciences research and product development complex downtown.”

PTRP owns 172 acres now and plans to expand to 230 acres eventually.

PTRP’s best known tenant is the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which is headed by regenerative medicine pioneer Dr. Anthony Atala.

Others include Targacept, and RJR spinout working on treatments for central nervous system disorders; Time Warner Telecom; Sunrise Technologies,

PowerSecure lights up with Innovative Electronic Solutions buy

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

powersecureWAKE FOREST, NC – PowerSecure International Inc. (Nasdaq:POWR), a Wake Forest company selling energy solutions, has acquired Morrisville, NC-based Innovative Electronics Solutions (IES), buying a two-thirds stake for $4.4 million.

IES management holds the remaining third of the company, but PowerSecure has the option to buy 100 percent of the company by issuing shares worth at least $10 million.

IES works with LED lighting companies.

PowerSource says the acquisition of IES significantly enhances the Company’s LED lighting development capabilities to accelerate the expansion of new products and capitalize on the strong, growing demand in the marketplace for LED lighting.

Since 2002, the IES team has engineered dozens of innovative lighting products for many of the largest and fastest growing LED lighting companies in the marketplace. Among these products is a leading LED street light for utilities that is currently being deployed in the U.S., with additional near-term opportunities to provide the street light to international customers.

Its manufacturing operation is located in Raleigh.

Additionally, PowerSource said that it intends to exercise its option to increase its EfficientLights ownership interest from 67% to 100%, to secure the expected future E.P.S. benefits from owning the one-third minority interest in this growing business.

HCL CleanTech moving HQ to NC, building pilot plant in Durham

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

HCL logoDURHAM, NC – HCL CleanTech, a venture-backed Israeli firm that uses a hydrocloric acid technology to break down biomass into sugars that can be turned into ethanol fuel, is moving its headquarters to the NC Biofuels Center and plans to build a pilot plant in Durham, NC.

The Biofuels Center says HCL plans to invest more than $4 million in the pilot plant and employ 13 people followed by a demonstration scale expansion requiring up to $35 million that would create between 30 and 40 new jobs.

The pilot plant will be built at Southern Research Institute’s Advanced Energy and Transportation Technologies Center in Durham.

“HCL can draw on all that is best about North Carolina’s biofuels community,” said W. Steven Burke, the Biofuels Center CEO. “We’re strong in the facilities, partnerships, state commitment, and forest resources needed for its success,” said W. Steven Burke, president and CEO of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina.”

The company’s technology can convert cellulosic wastes such as wood,  solids from city sewage plants, grasses and more- to sugars that can be fermented to ethanol, other bio fuels,  and a variety of bio-products and food.

HCL says its process is self-sufficient “energetically” and uses very little virgin water.

The company has said it plans to have the pilot plant operating this year.

The company closed an A round of funding in May from  Burrill & Company, Khosla Ventures,  its founders, and angel investors led by Zohar Gilon.

Golden LEAF Foundation awards $24M grant for NC rural broadband

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Golden Leaf foundationKINSTON, NC – The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded a $24 million grant in order to help secure $78 million in federal funds and leverage other private and public resources to bring broadband fiber to 69 counties across North Carolina.

Sixty-seven of the 69 counties are currently underserved or partially underserved for broadband connections.

The $24 million grant, part of the Golden LEAF Rural Broadband Initiative, was awarded to the non-profit MCNC, to provide matching funds for round two of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

If federal funds are forthcoming, MCNC will be able to implement a $111 million broadband fiber project and install 1,448 miles of new fiber through 69 counties in northeastern, northwestern, north central and south central North Carolina.

In addition to supporting key community anchor institutions, consumers and small businesses will benefit from agreements among MCNC and several private providers that will result in more broadband options for last-mile and wholesale connections.

“These areas of the state are struggling to transition their economies,” said Dan Gerlach, President of Golden LEAF.

“Access to fiber in these areas will help level the playing field by providing global connectivity for business and educational opportunities. Rural North Carolina cannot be left behind.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy.

The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state.

The foundation has awarded 926 grants totaling more than $446 million since its inception.

www.goldenleaf.org