The Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology (COIN) is a non-profit organization founded on a grant awarded and administered by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center with funding set aside by the North Carolina General Assembly. COIN’s mission is to accelerate the commercialization of nanotechnologies by leveraging the renowned life sciences cluster in the state of North Carolina. COIN works closely with a variety of vital and influential stakeholders including, but not limited to, the Governor’s office, the state’s U.S. Congressional delegation, the State Legislature, the N.C. Department of Commerce, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, Duke University, N.C. State University, UNC, Wake Forest, and other universities, the statewide community college system, K-12 STEM advocates, federal laboratories, and large and small companies alike to foster the transition of interdisciplinary translational research from academic laboratories to industry through company formation and product development.
COIN was founded in 2009 with a $2.6 million appropriation from the N.C. General Assembly as a byproduct of North Carolina’s Roadmap for Nanotechnology, which was spearheaded by the N.C. Board of Science & Technology. COIN’s goal is to bridge the gap between nanotechnology research and commercialization to develop the regional economy and to create jobs. COIN also works closely with national and international constituents focused on the growth of nanobiotechnology commercialization. The North Carolina nanotechnology landscape has grown dramatically in recent years to include over 90 companies – 45 are focused on nanobiotechnology – and over 30 university research centers with a nanoscience focus. To date, COIN has received $2 million to aid in the commercialization of nanotechnologies in the state.
Liquidia Technologies, a spinout of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was founded by Dr. Joseph DeSimone in 2004. By leveraging techniques from semiconductor fabricators and processes from the photographic film industry, Liquidia can rapidly design and manufacture precisely engineered nanoparticles of virtually any size, shape or composition for multiple uses including life sciences. This unique ability to engineer particles enables it to develop new product approaches for engineered vaccines, therapeutics and many other health-related products. Early on, Liquidia received a $140,860 Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop initial data for targeted cancer therapies. The N.C. Department of Commerce’s Office of Science & Technology matched that NIH funding with a $75,000 state grant. Further federal funding, including NIST and DARPA, has exceeded $6 million resulting in scalable manufacturing advances and leading to its initial human clinical trial. To date, Liquidia has raised over $60 million in equity funding, including the first ever life science investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and recently announced a very significant partnership with GlaxoSmithKline in vaccines and inhaled delivery. The company now employs over 50 full-time employees, and is poised to grow markedly in the coming years. Dr. DeSimone’s academic lab has an additional $3 million in research grants. Dr. DeSimone credits the infrastructure of North Carolina’s nanotechnology and biotechnology sectors as an important factor in the success of this venture.