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NC Biotech Picks Local Venture Challenge Finalists, Adds Research Award

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Mar 21, 2024
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s NC Biotech Venture Challenge is in full swing as startups from across each of the organization’s five offices compete to pitch their companies at the statewide venture challenge in June.

The Southeastern office announced its three finalists on Wednesday. Wilmington-based startups Boreas Monitoring Solutions, Nuream and Predicate Health Performance Group were selected by NC Biotech judges to compete for the Southeastern title in May. In addition to the startups, three University of North Carolina Wilmington professors were selected as finalists for their pre-venture research.

Boreas Monitoring Solutions makes a weight-sensing system designed to monitor cryogenic tanks that refrigerate biological materials. The startup has an office at 7232 Wrightsville Ave. in Wilmington and is in the process of closing a $500,000 capital raise, said CEO William Baird.

Nuream is a brain data sensing startup that is in the process of developing its first product with UNCW researchers. The startup is exploring Fabric-as-a-Sensor (FAAS) to monitor users’ brain waves while they sleep to determine broader health trends.

“Nuream is humbled the impactful NC Biotech organization selected us as one of the three Southeastern regional finalists,” the startup’s CEO Robert Cooley wrote in a statement to the Business Journal. “NC Biotech will be a big part of expanding this incredible startup ecosystem.”  

Predicate HPG uses a chest sensor to aid health care workers in detecting signs of sepsis, a deadly reaction to infection in the body. The company’s CEO, Morris Nguyen, also participated in the Raleigh pitch event CED Venture Connect on Wednesday and Thursday.

A zooplankton toxicology kit developed by UNCW Associate Professor Joseph Covi, an antifungal compound from UNCW Professor Christopher Halkides and a universal flu shot developed by UNCW Associate Professor Ying Wang were selected for the pre-venture track finalists. Each invention solves a problem plaguing biotechnology but is not at the point of requiring venture capital.

The pre-venture track is a pilot program this year, according to a news release from NC Biotech. The program is intended to strengthen the “mind-to-marketplace” support concept by including researchers with inventions able to be commercialized, officials stated in the release.

All startup and research finalists received monetary rewards totaling $40,000. The Southeastern winner will receive a 12-month coworking tenancy at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, among other prizes.

Although these groups and individuals are finalists of the venture challenge, two months of mentoring and pitch coaching still lay ahead before a Southeastern winner is named. Three networking and mentoring sessions will take place between now and May.

NC Biotech’s regional offices include the Eastern, Greater Charlotte, Piedmont Triad, Southeastern, and Western regions.

The final winner from the Southeast will move on to participate in additional mentoring before the statewide contest at Triad BioNight in Greensboro. The finalists of the state-wide challenge will receive monetary rewards totaling $100,000.
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