2022 Statewide Challenge

Welcome to the NC BIONEER Venture Challenge, for Biotech Pioneers bringing life sciences innovations to the marketplace in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has launched this life-sciences-based, innovation-focused venture challenge for North Carolina to raise the profile, increase the volume, and enhance the success of life science commercialization, entrepreneurs, and companies in the state.

2022 Benefits

The NC BIOTECH Venture Challenge benefits for the selected finalists include the following:
  • A 2-month period of intense mentoring assistance and networking opportunities in each region, followed by an additional month for each regional finalist.
  • Public and private networking and educational events to enhance our connected networks of entrepreneurs, investors, and others in the region and beyond, especially as they relate to biotech innovation and commercialization.
  • Targeted assistance from the NC Biotechnology Center Life Science Intelligence team--e.g., industry and market research.
  • pitch challenge at the end of the assistance process, which will yield significant monetary awards, in addition to the invaluable mentoring and networking each venture will experience during the assistance phase.
    • Monetary Awards Totaling $40,000 IN EACH REGION: Top Award, $20,000; Second and Third Awards, $10,000 each. (Total: $200,000 across the state)
    • Incubator tenancy and/or support partnerships with local incubators, accelerators, and support providers where applicable. 
    • Promotion in the region and beyond of our impressive community of biotech innovators, entrepreneurs, and ventures.

Statewide Challenge: The winner from each of the 5 regional challenges will continue to the statewide challenge for additional mentoring assistance, NC Biotechnology Center Life Science Intelligence team support, promotion, public appearances, and monetary awards.  

  • Monetary Awards of $100,000 for statewide winners, in addition to the $200,000 for regional finalists, for an NC BIOTECH Venture Challenge total of $300,000 in non-dilutive funding for 15 North Carolina ventures.

2022 Mentoring, Networking, and Awards Events

Because building professional networks to strengthen our entrepreneurial ecosystem is critical to venture success, selected finalists and mentors will be expected to attend the following events:
      • March 2022 Kickoff Celebrations – Regional (All applicants, mentors, presenters, others)
      • March 2022 Notifications to Candidates and Selected Finalists

Regional Assistance Period: Mar–May 2022

      • March 2022 Networking and Mentoring Session #1
      • April 2022 Networking and Mentoring Session #2
      • April 2022 Pitch Coach: Individual Venture Team Sessions 
      • May 2022 Networking and Mentoring Session #3
      • May 2022 Judging Phase – Regional (Private meeting with pitches to judges)
      • May 2022 Regional Venture Pitch Showcase and Winner Reveal (Public event)

The winner from each of the five regional challenges will continue to the state-level challenge for additional mentoring assistance, NC Biotechnology Center Life Science Intelligence team support, promotion, public appearance, and monetary awards.

Statewide Assistance Period: June 2022

      • June 2022 Additional Mentoring, Networking, and Pitch Coaching
      • June 23, 2022 Statewide Judging Phase (private meeting with pitches to judges)
      • June 23, 2022 Statewide Finals Venture Pitch Showcase and Winner Reveal at Triad BioNight in High Point, NC


From the 2022 NC BIONEER State Winner:

“The exposure Plakous received through this Venture Challenge has continued to pay dividends for our company in numerous ways. The network we developed through the mentoring program as well as the insights gained in the positioning of the company and stress testing of our business plan remain on-going assets. I regularly reach out to individuals I worked with over the months of preparation for the program to act as a sounding board as we continue to advance the company through the regulatory, manufacturing, and clinical processes. Our relationships within the NCBiotech Center have also expanded through program awareness and financial support.”

– Robert Boyce, Chief Executive Officer, Plakous Therapeutics Inc. Winston-Salem


From the 2020 NC BIONEER Top Award Recipient:

"NC Bioneer is a unique opportunity for early biotech entrepreneurs to refine their pitch presentation, and pressure test the assumptions of the business model. The venture challenge provided access to Life Science Intelligence Team at NCBiotech which offered the latest market research reports to help define our total addressable market, trends, and competition. The strongest benefit for Isosceles was the mentorship program and networking resources including pharmaceutical specialists that were later critical to the company’s success in the challenge and beyond. I encourage all serious biotech entrepreneurs to apply for the 2022 Bioneer Venture Challenge, take full advantage of the top-notch resources it provides, and use the opportunity to become a part of the vibrant NC biotechnology community."

– Brett Lanier, President, Isosceles Pharmaceuticals  Wilmington, NC

2022 Finalists

1st Place Award
Piedmont Triad

Plakous Therapeutics

Robert Boyce, CEO

Problem:  Severely premature babies are at risk for developing a devastating rare pediatric disease, Necrotizing Enterocolitis. A disease for which there are currently no diagnostic tests or FDA approved treatments.

Solution: Plakous Therapeutics has developed a patented, orally delivered mixture of anti-inflammatory and developmental proteins that mimic amniotic fluid to prevent Necrotizing Enterocolitis.

2nd Place Award

Green Solutions Group

Larry Kennedy, Founder and CEO

Problem: Human health and environmental issues resulting from short and long-term exposure to toxic chemicals including, formaldehyde, phenol, glutaraldehyde, and methanol, used in tissue preservation for medical education, surgical training, and mortuary science

Solution:  GSG’s patented family of products deliver “Real Life” experiences in anatomy and surgical training by providing a high-fidelity human model with near perfect anatomy, normal tissue coloration, and consistency that improves the quality of medicine for all people.

3rd Place Award

Olfax Medical

Jonathan Beckwith, CEO



4th Place Award

Renaissance Fiber

Michael Long, Founder and CSO

Problem:  Need for a consistent supply of sustainable materials for use in textiles, non-wovens, construction, composite, agriculture, paper, and bioenergy production.

Solution:  Use a unique rendering process technology to deliver a sustainable hemp product for textile manufacturing, which is grown on American farms, processed domestically, uses less water and foreign chemicals than cotton, and is completely natural compared to fossil-derived or synthetic fibers which are energy intensive and polluting.

5th Place Award


Bryan Allinson, CEO

Problem:  BioEphX patented lead therapeutic compound EFNA1 preserves heart tissue following myocardial infarction (heart attack) which otherwise results in morbidity and mortality as a result of heart failure.

Solution:  Our long-term goal is for EFNA1 to become a standard of care for all patients with known or at-risk for coronary disease.

2022 Statewide Judges

NC BIONEER 2022 Pitch State Judges

  • Ben Redding, NC IDEA
  • Jason Doherty, NC Biotechnology Center
  • John Hardin, NC Department of Commerce


NC BIONEER Pitch Judges

  • John Austin, NC IDEA
  • Rodney Baker, VentureSouth
  • Vivian Doelling, NC Biotechnology Center
  • Lisa Ferrara, Orthokinetic Technologies
  • Chris Hillier, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Innovation Center
  • Karen Levert, AgTechInventures
  • Michael RhoadesBlaze Advisors



  • Paul G. Amazeen, Sound Imaging Inc.
  • Lee Backston, Pilot Associates
  • Susan Bales, Bales Consulting Group, LLC
  • Lisa Brandkamp, Marsch Consulting
  • Tracie H Brisson , Tracie H Brisson Law
  • Barry Buzogany, Consultant
  • Ryan Evans, Bluestreak IOT
  • Bruce Mancinelli, WebSurveyor
  • Jennifer McCall, SeaTox Research Inc
  • Sam McCall, SeaTox Research Inc
  • Heather McWhorter, SBTDC
  • Glen Michalske, GMBD LLC
  • Eric A. Norfleet, Brilliant Sole
  • Vincent Re, TechTiles LLC
  • Ann Revell-Pechar, FluentPR
  • Virginia Sourlis, The Sourlis Law Firm
  • Bill Wilson, Envision Strategies
  • Josh Wright, Tideline Technologies

Lead Statewide Sponsor

Additional Partners

Event Gallery

Contact Info



Randall Johnson