Four NC Tech Startups Win $150,000 in Innovation Awards

HICKORY, N.C. -- What do an industrial 3-D printer, a lightbulb that works in a power outage, a robot that assembles walls in new home construction, and a “human body in a bottle” have in common? They are the genius products developed by the four new recipients of Innovation Fund North Carolina’s (IFNC) latest round of funding awards. These innovative startups, all based in North Carolina, will receive $25,000 and $75,000 in grants and loans from IFNC, a privately-funded organization committed to growing jobs, economic growth, and educational opportunities in North Carolina. IFNC awards are pre-seed, meaning that they are given to companies in the early, most fragile stages of development- the stage at which 90% of startups fail and traditional funding is nonexistent.


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Each of this cycle’s recipients went through a rigorous application and interview process to receive their IFNC funding. As a condition of their award, the companies agree to participate in business development mentoring with IFNC’s advisors and feed the ongoing growth of the entrepreneurial community in NC through internships, lectures, and mentoring of their own.

IFNC Executive Director Tony Mifsud says, “Our mission at IFNC is not only to provide funding to help these businesses succeed, but also to mentor in such a way that the business prospers, creates jobs, and helps boost the economy of North Carolina long-term.” 

This cycle’s recipients include:

    EpiCypher (Research Triangle Park)- developed a panel of HMT assays, or a “human body in a bottle”, that allows drug manufacturers to undergo epigenetic drug discovery.
    Fusion3Design (Greensboro)- produces best-in-class, industrial-quality 3-D printers.
    TVL International (Matthews)- designed the SmartCharge light bulb, which is the first bulb able to be turned off and on from a light switch, even during a power outage.
    Williams Robotics (Burlington)- developed a panel-assembly robot that builds stud walls for dwelling construction.

IFNC is a not-for-profit organization, and is made possible by donations from businesses, organizations, and individuals who are passionate about making North Carolina a supportive, productive environment for high-growth startups. Its founding partners include Catawba Valley Community College (Hickory), Fayetteville Technical Community College and the City of Conover. IFNC is currently seeking additional partners and individual support to be able to continue the great work it has begun.