“This newest cohort of NC IDEA SEED grant recipients is a great representation of the expansion of entrepreneurship across the state,” said Thom Ruhe, president and CEO of NC IDEA, in a statement. “These companies illustrate the vibrancy of entrepreneurial interests and are positioned to quickly grow, create jobs and positively impact the state’s economy.”
According to Ruhe, the seven members of the cohort were selected from the largest and most geographically diverse applicant pool in the foundation’s history. Since its inception in 2006, the NC IDEA SEED program has awarded over $5.5 million in non-dilutive grants to 132 innovative companies. The spring 2018 cohort is the 25th grant cycle.
NC IDEA also distributed NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grants to 11 community partners across the state of North Carolina in 2016 and 2017, totalling $1 million, with the objective of building entrepreneurial capacity across the entire state. Ruhe announced the organization’s intention of distributing a second round of ECOSYSTEM grants in 2018 at the Charlotte Venture Challenge on Tuesday.
MICRO GRANTS HELP VALIDATE IDEAS
“We have a lot of opportunity if we can find the resources to support them in North Carolina,” said Ruhe. “We only strengthen our grip by broadening our reach.”
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The organization is also piloting a series of micro-grants, designed to assist companies that need small-dollar investments, as little as $500 or $1,000, to validate an idea at a time of need. Applications are open until May 14 for this program, and more than 160 applications have already been submitted to NC IDEA for this pilot program. It is expected that the applications for the micro-grant program will far outpace the applications for this year’s NC IDEA SEED grants—the organization received 185 applications.
The seven grant recipients were selected from those 185 applications, said Andrea Cook, director of NC IDEA. More than half of the application submissions were companies based outside of the thirteen-county Triangle region, and one-third of North Carolina’s counties were represented in the applicant pool.
NC IDEA first selected semifinalists, and after further discussion, selected 12 finalist companies. Seven were selected to receive a total of $300,000, with five companies receiving $50,000 and two companies receiving $25,000.
VitalFlo Inc.—Raleigh, NC—$50,000
VitalFlo is redefining the standard of care for asthma management by providing actionable recommendations to patients when they need it most: before they have an asthma attack. The company’s lung health analytics platform, powered by its handheld medical device and digital health management app, enables asthmatic patients to track their lung health and asthma medications at home. VitalFlo’s vision is to build a future without asthma attacks.
The seed grants will support a variety of activities for the growth of nascent firms, said Cook. In addition to the funding, grant recipients will also receive mentoring from entrepreneurs and investors, seek assistance from MBA fellows, utilize in-kind services from attorneys, accountants and marketing consultants, and receive public recognition that will increase access to growth capital.
For more detailed profiles of the winners, you can read more at WRAL TechWire.