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Virginia Catalyst Awards $2.1 Million in Grants to Fund Collaborative Bioscience Research

Tuesday, June 4, 2019  
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The Virginia Catalyst, formerly known as the Virginia Biosciences Health
Research Corporation (VBHRC), announced that it has awarded $2.1 million in grants to four life and bioscience projects in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These grants, which will be met with nearly $3.2 million in matching funds from partner companies, were awarded as Round 9 of Virginia Catalyst’s ongoing mission to stimulate economic development by promoting collaborative projects that address large, unmet needs for improving human health, and that can create high-paying jobs in the Commonwealth.

“As national and global leaders in life sciences, Virginia’s research universities continue to foster collaborations, to combine their intellectual and scientific expertise with industry to achieve meaningful results,” said Mike Grisham, CEO, Virginia Catalyst. “We are excited to continue our mission of supporting collaborations in Virginia’s biosciences. The critical mass achieved by these collaborations provides Virginia with competitive advantages over other states and has resulted in significant outside capital being invested in Virginia to finance the commercialization of Virginia’s innovations, while creating high-paying jobs for the Commonwealth.”

Through this ninth round of funding, Virginia Catalyst has awarded 31 grants totaling over $15.9 million, resulting in a combined $33.4 million in matching funds and an additional $138 million in follow-on funding.

The awards, which range from $200,000 to $800,000, help fund collaborative efforts between industry and Virginia research universities with the goal of:

• Funding innovative, collaborative, translational research projects that elevate the level of sponsored research at Virginia’s universities and have the potential to significantly improve human health and create high value jobs in the Commonwealth
• Accelerating commercialization of Virginia research university inventions and discoveries and to achieve competitive critical mass through robust collaborations of Virginia research universities and industry

Round 9 of Grant Funding project winners

Project Focus: AgroSpheres-Enabled Biological Fungicide (Minicell-based RNAi)
• Company: AgroSpheres, Inc. (Charlottesville, VA)
• University collaborators: Virginia Tech and University of Virginia
• Funding amount: $600,000
• Matching funds: $600,000 provided by AgroSpheres, Inc.

Project Focus: Rapid Drug Development Using Molecular Rotational Resonance (MRR) for Structure Analysis
• Company: BrightSpec, Inc. (Charlottesville, VA)
• University collaborators: Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech
• Funding amount: $400,000
• Matching funds: $400,000 provided by BrightSpec, Inc.

Project Focus: Nanotrap® Liquid Biopsy Collection Device (LBC) for Cancer Diagnostics
• Company: Ceres Nanosciences, Inc. (Manassas, VA)
• University collaborators: University of Virginia and George Mason University
• Funding amount: $600,000
• Matching funds: $1.2 million provided by GreyBird Ventures via Ceres Nanosciences, Inc.

Project Focus: Implementation and Clinical Impact of a Next Generation Precision Oncology Platform
• Company: Perthera, Inc. (McLean, VA)
• University collaborators: University of Virginia and Eastern Virginia Medical School
• Funding amount: $500,000
• Matching funds: $1,000,000 provided by Pilot Growth and Equity via Perthera, Inc.

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