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Posted: June 16, 2009
North Carolina Biotechnology Center approves $2.5 million grant for nanobiotechnology commercialization
(Nanowerk News) The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has approved a four-year, $2.5 million grant for the Center of Innovation in Nanobiotechnology (COIN) to develop the commercial potential of nanobiotechnology research from universities across the state.
"Nanobiotechnology is an exciting new discipline that has the potential to change everything from textiles to medical devices. This Center of Innovation will help commercialize more of the nanobiotech breakthroughs being made in North Carolina laboratories," said Mary Beth Thomas, senior director of the Centers of Innovation program at the Biotechnology Center.
Nanotechnology involves structures between one and 100 nanometers in size--roughly 10,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper. Companies in North Carolina are already working on nanoparticles that treat disease by carrying new genes to certain cells, and sunlight-powered nano-scale coatings that kill microbes on hard surfaces and fabrics.
The four-year award to COIN builds on a $100,000 planning grant given by the Biotechnology Center last year. That money was used to hire an executive director and develop a business plan, making the Nanobiotech Center eligible for the current round of funding. With the new award, COIN will establish itself as an independent, self-sustaining entity. The $2.5 million will be paid as business milestones are reached.
Key partners in the planning effort included North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Wake Forest University.
"This is the first major grant developed jointly by these three research universities," said Gwyn Riddick, director of the Biotechnology Center's Piedmont Triad Office and one of the initiative's original supporters. "In developing nanobiotechnology, we aim to create a strong, region-specific science brand for the Piedmont Triad and the state."
COIN owes much of its success to the efforts of strong collaborators, including the Joint School for Nanoscience and Nanoengineering and academic and industry partners statewide. The Piedmont Triad Partnership, a nonprofit economic development corporation, has administered the grant and provided office space during the planning phase.
"It's been my pleasure to work with a talented, committed team on a project of this magnitude," said Don Kirkman, president and CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership. "Innovation is at the heart of vibrant economies, and we are excited about harnessing North Carolina's talent for innovation to create a framework for new companies, products and jobs."
Biotech veteran Brooks Adams was hired in January to be executive director of the planning effort and will assume the same role in the independent COIN.
"Our mission is to connect the dots in the world of nanobiotechnology, including academic and industry researchers, entrepreneurs, managers and investors," said Adams. "This center will use nanobiotech to add value, meet market needs, solve problems and benefit humanity. The result will be economic growth and job creation across the state."
In accord with the Center of Innovation program's statewide purview, the COIN core group now includes Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC-Charlotte.
COIN is one of four Centers of Innovation created by the Biotechnology Center to accelerate commercialization in areas of particular economic promise, including marine biotechnology, drug discovery, and advanced medical technologies. In addition to their technology-development efforts, the Centers will coordinate research leading to commercial opportunities and sector development.
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, education and strategic policy statewide.