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N.C. Biotech Center Launches Larger Loans

Support doubled to take product ideas to market

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Start-up biotech companies may qualify for up to $1 million in loans under a program unveiled this week by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

The loans are part of an expanded program funded by the Biotechnology Center for companies in North Carolina. The funds give early-stage companies a boost before they become competitive for angel or venture-capital investment. Separate loans support company inception, certain types of research and corporate growth.

The overall dollar amounts are more than two times larger than in years past.

"Building a viable biotechnology company requires years of struggle and millions of dollars," said John Richert, vice president of the Business and Technology Development Program, "and the costs keep rising."

"So we've not only increased the caps on these offerings, but we've also made some revisions to fill funding gaps and stay ahead of the changing dynamics of the marketplace."

The revisions became effective July 1 and were a product of conversations with members of the venture-capital community, university technology-transfer offices and with entrepreneurs to learn how the Biotechnology Center could improve its support of companies at different stages of development.

Getting Started

The first change was to eliminate two programs that awarded either $25,000 or $50,000 to fund corporate spin-outs or university start-ups. Those two programs are now replaced with the Company Inception Loan of $50,000.

The business-inception package also includes a $50,000 Technology Enhancement Grant for technology-transfer offices at North Carolina universities.

"That's to help them make technologies they may have on their shelves more licensable," said Richert.

Supporting Research

In the research-loan offerings, the Biotechnology Center's Small Business Innovation Research Bridge Loans fill the gap between phases of federal SBIR funding. The loans are now capped at $150,000, twice as large as before. The maximum for Small Business Research Loans, which support applied research, has increased from $150,000 to $350,000.

Funding Early Growth

Company access to the Strategic Growth Loans has also been effectively doubled. A company meeting clear milestones defined in a $250,000 Strategic Growth Loan is now eligible for a second $250,000 infusion through the same program. Companies were formerly limited to one such award. The loans still require matching investment from a qualifying investment fund.

The Business and Technology Development Program has provided more than $16 million in loans and other support to more than 100 startup companies statewide since the Biotechnology Center was established in 1984.

That investment has resulted in more than $1.6 billion in additional dollars from venture capital, federal grants, cooperative business agreements and other sources. That's a return of $100 for every dollar invested - a major reason North Carolina is the third-largest biotechnology state in the United States.

The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide.

SOURCE North Carolina Biotechnology Center
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