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North Carolina Collaboratory is fostering business-academia partnerships


Contact: Sarah Fitzgerald ( 

Raleigh, N.C. – The North Carolina Collaboratory, headquartered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is awarding 11 research and development grants through a new competitive Business-Academia Partnership Program to help address the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 in North Carolina. These grants are being awarded to, East Carolina University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of North Carolina Greensboro, and University of North Carolina Pembroke. 

Supported by a $15,000,000 appropriation made by the North Carolina General Assembly, the research program aims to foster and strengthen partnerships between businesses and academic research groups to transform applied research and innovation into technological solutions for the benefit of public health and the economy in the state. 

Recipients of the awards include faculty from across the UNC System and their partners in startup, for-profit and nonprofit organizations. The grants will last for up to three years and tackle issues related to the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19, from targeted drug development, to personal protective equipment manufacturing methods, to homeownership disparities exacerbated by the pandemic. 

“This program is a new direction for the Collaboratory that opens opportunities for companies to forge relationships with the academic community. The more partnerships we have working together for North Carolina communities, the more impact we can have statewide.” – NC Collaboratory Executive Director Jeff Warren 

This initiative is part of a larger $74 million dollar appropriation made by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2021 to address the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Established in 2016 by the legislature, the Collaboratory serves policy makers by identifying, pursuing, and supporting research and development opportunities to generate practical information and resources for use by State and local governments and the communities they serve. Since its inception, the Collaboratory has funded more than 300 projects across the entire UNC system and other institutions of higher learning in North Carolina and received over $148 million in legislative appropriations to carry out its mission. 

A summary of the awards and academia-business partnerships are provided below: Business Partner  Academic Partner  Total funding  Project title and summary 
Chimerix, Inc.  Mark Heise, UNC Chapel Hill  $2,000,000  Title: Identification and Development of a Broad-Spectrum, Easy-to-Use, Well-Tolerated COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment. 

Summary: Building on past work, this project seeks to optimize a new anti-viral drug, CMX521, for oral administration to treat COVID-19. 

Codetta Bio, Inc.  Deepak Kumar, North Carolina Central University  $2,000,000  Title: Multi-omic solution for determination of COVID and long-COVID infections and severity. 

Summary: Creating new technology for detecting a variety of respiratory diseases and measuring biomarkers to improve research, diagnosis and clinical care for COVID-19 

EmitBio, Inc.  Scott Randell, UNC Chapel Hill  $2,000,000  Title: Validation of the RD-X19 COVID Treatment Device toward Regulatory Approval and Commercialization. 

Summary: Building on past work to verify and validate a new handheld device designed for home treatment of COVID-19. 

Inhalon Biopharma, Inc.  Sam Lai, UNC Chapel Hill  $2,000,000  Title: Developing IN-007 as an Inhaled Treatment Against Pathogens Utilizing Human ACE2 for Viral Attachment and Entry. 

Summary: Advancing ongoing research towards clinical trials for a new broad-spectrum antiviral drug capable of neutralizing current and future COVID-19 variants. 

Vast Therapeutics, Inc.  Li Yang, East Carolina University  $1,200,000  Title: Investigation of proprietary NO releasing prodrug and its effects on COVID related inflammation to prevent long-term lung damage. 

Summary: Advancing ongoing work to develop a water-soluble prodrug that can be inhaled to stop tissue inflammation and subsequent lung damage. 

Halyard North Carolina, LLC  Hooman Tafreshi, NC State University  $1,000,000  Title: Next generation respirators 

Summary: Developing new manufacturing methods to create ultra-breathable material for masks and other personal protective equipment 

Kimberly-Clark Global Sales, LLC  Hooman Tafreshi, NC State University  $1,000,000  Title: Smart Manufacturing of PPE and HVAC Filters. 

Summary: Leveraging machine learning to enhance manufacturing processes for highly breathable personal protective equipment and HVAC filters. 

SAS Institute, Inc.  Matthew Wolfgang, UNC Chapel Hill  $1,000,000  Title: Machine learning enabled personalized medicine to improve severe COVID-19 outcomes. 

Summary: Studying molecular and health record date of COVID-19 patients to develop predictive models for guiding clinical care. 

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