2020 Southeastern Pilot Challenge

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

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office has launched this life-sciences-based, innovation-focused venture challenge for Southeastern North Carolina, with lead partner UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, to raise the profile, increase the volume, and enhance the success of life science commercialization, entrepreneurs, and companies in the region

2020 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.
  • Public and private 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.
  • A 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: Top Award, $20,000; Second Award, $10,000; Third and Fourth Awards, $5,000 each.
  • UNCW CIE Tenancy: For the venture winning the top award, UNC Wilmington will offer a one year co-working tenancy at the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This benefit includes 24-hour card-key access for two members of the winning team to use the co-working space, meeting rooms, equipment, mail services, and media team.
  • Promotion in the region and beyond of our impressive community of biotech innovators, entrepreneurs, and ventures.

2020 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 5, 2020 Kickoff event (all applicants, mentors, presenters, others)
  • March 12, 2020 Notifications to Selected Candidates
  • Assistance Period: Mar–May 2020
    • March 19, 2020 Networking and Mentoring Session #1
    • April 6, 2020 Networking and Mentoring Session #2
    • May 14, 2020 Networking and Mentoring Session #3
  • May 18, 2020 Judging Phase (private meeting with pitches to judges)
  • May 19, 2020 Pitch Competition (public event)

(*Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s Coastal Entrepreneur Awards is May 21, 2020)

2020 Finalists

1st Place Award

Isosceles Pharmaceuticals

Brett Lanier, President

Problem: Need for safer, non-addictive, effective alternatives to opioid treatment.

Solution: Delivery of synthetic cannabidiol as an IV and transdermal formulation for acute pain relief at lower doses by avoiding first pass metabolism in the liver and eliminating the conversion of CBD to THC by stomach acid.

2nd Place Award


Nick Lazaridis, President 

Problem: Lack of standardized sequencing methods in the field of molecular diagnostics resulting in false positives and false negatives.

Solution: Add Accugenomics unique internal standard mixtures (ISM TM technology) for every target gene for every sample to reduce false positives and false negatives especially at the limit of detection.

3rd Place Award

Electronic Lab Logs

Daniel Summers, CEO, Founding Partner

Problem: Need for an alternative to paper logs to track preventive maintenance and QC tasks for lab equipment to improve compliance and reduce time-consuming review process and speed up audits.

Solution: Cloud-based software platform that notifies users of maintenance schedule and status instead of scanning a paper log. Users can review and sign-off electronically for monthly checks, as well as generate custom reports for a real-time view into their compliance.

4th Place Award


Melissa Strong, MS, PhD, Founder, Lead Biologist and Data Scientist

Problem: Daily exposure to common synthetic chemicals via consumer products, food, water, air, and lifestyle choices that affect human health.

Solution: Personalized environmental health assessment kits to collect saliva, urine and blood spots over time for analysis of chemical levels and markers of inflammation and immune

2020 Selection Committee

NC BIONEER Reviewers

  • Mary Beth Bobeck, New Hanover Regional Medical Center
  • Barry Buzogony, Consultant
  • Chris JonesLucrum
  • Carlos ParajonWilmington Investor Network
  • Karl RicanekLapetus Solutions
  • Heather McWhorterSBTDC (Small Business and Technology Development Center)
  • Ron Vetter, UNC Wilmington

2020 Judges

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

2020 Mentors


  • 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 Sponsor

Additional Partners

Event Gallery

Contact Info



Randall Johnson