On Tuesday, members of Wilmington’s startup community are scheduled to attend The Business of Innovation
The event is being hosted by the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) in partnership with the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
The workshop is a new event for the center, said Heather McWhorter, CIE’s director. Its goal is to help the next generation of innovators that are tech and science based. She said she hopes the workshop can teach innovators how to navigate issues such as intellectual property rights and connect new founders with those who have succeeded in the innovation scene.
Panelists at the event include founders of Wilmington-based biotechnology startups: David Reeser of OpiAID and Will Baird of Boreas Monitoring Solutions.
Also in attendance will be members of the Department of Commerce, Reeser said, and investors may come to connect with budding entrepreneurs. There will be workshops discussing funding resources in the state, angel investors and incentive programs, according to the SBTDC website.
“Wilmington is specially positioned that if we can get more resources, more capital, into our ecosystem,” Reeser said, “the bright minds we have here will be able to produce results.”
Attending the CIE event Tuesday is an opportunity for Baird to share his experience with others going through the same thing, he said. There is a sense of comradery between those who have started their own businesses, he said.
The two founders will sit on a panel with other local innovation leaders, answering questions about building a business from the ground up, sharing challenges, fundraising and other aspects of the innovation ecosystem, Reeser said.
“Everybody has something to teach and something to learn,” he said. “I’m going to be there to share my experience of what I’ve walked through, and at the same time, I’m there to learn as well.”
Reeser’s OpiAID received a $2.8 million Fast Track grant in May from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The company studies changes in biometrics
of those with Opioid Use Disorder when they undergo treatment.
Baird founded his company, Boreas Monitoring Solutions, in 2018, he said. He came from Wilmington Reproductive Labs with his new method of monitoring tins used to store human reproductive tissue, often used for IVF or in vitro fertilization.
His seat on an expert panel after participating as a mentee in UNCW’s CIE Mentor Program feels like a honor, Baird said. He still feels like his company is in its early stages, but that now is a tipping point for Boreas Monitoring Solutions.
His company received
a NC IDEA SEED grant of $50,000 in May. The company was one of six in the state to win the grant.
Reeser said he is looking forward to interacting with the crowd at the event. He said he hopes the panel creates a conversation with audience members as opposed to those on stage dominating the dialogue.
“This is one of the very few times you're ever going to see all the people that know all the different pieces [of the innovation scene] in one room in Wilmington,” he said.