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Wilmington Startups Receive Nods From NC IDEA

By Johanna Cano, posted Oct 25, 2022
A Wilmington startup with a solution for toe walking has received a grant from NC IDEA Foundation, according to a press release Tuesday.

Project Heel was named one of 15 startups in the state selected as winners of the ninth NC IDEA MICRO grant cycle.

The grant is designed for small projects by young companies looking to “validate and advance their ideas,” the release stated. The winners received $10,000.

Project Heel was developed by PJ Morrison, who has a doctorate in physical therapy and is licensed to practice in the state. On the startup’s website, Morrison writes that he got the idea for Project Heel after he had a child patient who was walking on their toes and Morrison began to search for a solution. Finding out that what was in the market did not work for many, he designed a prototype for an orthotic.

According to its website, the Project Heel External Shoe Orthotic helps a child stop toe walking with the orthotic placed in front of where the toes flex, helping to extend it and allowing gravity to keep the child from going on their toes. Users have the option of installing the orthotic themselves or sending it to Project Heel to have it installed.

“We have seen yet another competitive cycle and a continued need for funding and support from all parts of the state,” Thom Ruhe, president and CEO of NC IDEA said in the release. “These young companies speak to the economic potential of North Carolina, and they represent the great work of our ECOSYSTEM partners to level the playing field for all promising startups with 13 of the 15 grant recipients representing under-served communities.”

In addition, NC IDEA also announced finalists of the latest cycle of NC IDEA SEED, offering $50,000 grants. Among the finalists is OpiAID, a Wilmington-based startup tackling the issue of opioid addiction and overdose. The solution is a cloud-based, customized data science product that Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) rehab centers can use that collects patient data and seeks to improve shared clinical decision-making.

OpiAID was selected from 158 applicants and will present before a review panel after which about five to seven grant recipients will be announced live at NC IDEA’s 2022 Ecosystem Summit on Nov. 14-15.
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