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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC medical startups receive $80,000 grant

Four UNC startup companies are getting an $80,000 boost thanks to a federal grant.

The money is coming from Carolina KickStart, which is a program within the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), a medical research center funded by the National Institutes of Health that distributes grants.

“We help research go faster, be less expensive and more efficient,” said Michelle Maclay, spokeswoman for NC TraCS.

Carolina KickStart assists startup biomedical companies at UNC and works for the commercialization of new technologies. In addition to providing funding for new companies, it also hosts educational programs and networking events.

The program awarded money to four of the 12 companies that applied: Augment Medical, Meryx Pharmaceuticals, Glycan Therapeutics and Spirovation.

Of the total money awarded, Augment Medical received $30,000 to further the development of its project.

Augment Medical began with a small group of graduate students in a class in UNC’s biomedical engineering program, which is joint with N.C. State University’s.

The students surveyed the WakeMed hospital in Raleigh and discovered that disabled patients without motor control were unable to call the nurse using the remote control button.

The company, which is developing a wireless communication platform for disabled patients, previously received $7,000 from Carolina KickStart. Augment Medical used the money to develop a prototype.

This most recent grant will allow the company to develop a market-ready prototype and file for an international patent. The company’s initial plans are to start using this technology locally in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, and later to pursue licensing or selling the product to larger companies.

“We plan to go to the European Union to sell this product — this is not just a U.S. problem,” said Augment Medical CEO Tim Martin.

Andrew Kant, the assistant director of Carolina KickStart, said he does not think Tuesday’s federal government shutdown will delay the funding, but could have an impact on future grants.

“The shutdown, in addition to sequestration, threatens not only basic research but ultimately our ability to transfer innovative technology out of the University,” he said.

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