NC Biotech Center helps fuels state’s startup ecosystem

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by Bryant Haskins

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has played a vital role in helping launch new companies affiliated with Duke and other universities across the state and in supporting their growth and development.

NCBiotech has provided loans totaling $9.25 million to support 39 Duke spinout companies over the years, according to Vivian Doelling, Ph.D., the organization’s vice president of investments, emerging company development. She said that for every dollar NCBiotech provided to support those companies, the businesses raised $199.51 in additional funding.

“Our universities are extremely important to the growth and development of our state’s biotechnology and healthcare sector,” Doelling added. “We recognize the tremendous entrepreneurial talent we have in our state, and NCBiotech often is among the first to provide support to these new companies through our loan program. Duke is just one example of how world-class expertise, backed by investment dollars, is paying dividends to our state and its people.”


It’s been a good year for startups at Duke University.

The school’s Office for Translation and Commercialization (OTC), which manages Duke-generated innovations and licenses them to commercial partners, reported the launch of 13 new companies in fiscal year 2021.

An international corporation also acquired an older company that originated at Duke: Thermo Fisher purchased Phitonex. Another Duke startup – Inhibikase – went public.

Licensee revenues for products and acquisitions totaled more than $90 million.

Ten of the 13 new companies got their start at the Duke University School of Medicine; two at the Pratt School of Engineering; and one at the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, according to the OTC. About 70% have a headquarters in North Carolina.

“We are proud of the successes our licensees and startups achieved last year in getting products into the marketplace and creating successful partnerships,” said Robin Rasor, associate vice president for translation and commercialization at Duke.

The OTC said it received 374 invention disclosures and signed 118 agreements with industry partners – 28 of which were exclusive – during the fiscal year, which ended June 30. The office received 93 U.S. patents and filed 489 patent applications. That’s an increase of 34 over the previous fiscal year.

The total number of new companies created at Duke since the OTC was formed in 1986 now stands at 182. Duke said its startups generated more than $300 million in funding during fiscal year 2021. Most recently, Xilis, which is developing its MicoOrganoSphere precision cancer treatment platform, garnered $70 million in Series A financing. Replicate Bioscience, which is working on RNA-based treatments for cancer, raised another $40 million.

“We are excited by our resilient and entrepreneurial faculty’s continued success at launching successful start-ups during the past year made awkward by the pandemic, and we look forward to seeing more great Duke innovations exit the university as start-ups in the coming year,” said Jeff Welch, director of Duke New Ventures.

Original Source: WRAL TechWire