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Two UNC-Chapel Hill Ventures Among Best 2016 University Startups


Representatives from two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill startup companies will present their work later this month during a daylong national demonstration event intended for U.S. Congress members.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Renovion and EpiCypher are among 35 start-ups from more than two dozen universities and research institutes selected to be featured in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20 during the first University Start-ups Demo Day. The event is being organized by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2), an association of university start-up officers.

U.S. universities create more than 800 start-ups each year, and 200 companies were nominated and screened to find the “Best University Startups 2016” for the event at the U.S. Capitol. These companies are the most exciting early-stage companies presented by the national’s great universities, organizers said.

Renovion, based in Durham, is a pre-clinical stage pharmaceutical company working to improve the survival rate for lung transplant patients with a novel therapy for chronic inflammatory airway diseases. Based on expanded access results in three patients, the company is developing a therapy with the goal of being the first Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for patients who have received a lung transplant.

EpiCypher, located in Research Triangle Park and Chapel Hill, is pioneering the science of epigenetics. Epigenetics is an essential dimension of personalized medicine, representing additional biological coding beyond genetics that regulates protein expression. EpiCypher has brought products to market, including the first biochemically pure recombinant nucleosome and the first industry-developed designer nucleosomes. EpiCypher also is developing the first reliable epigenetics biomarker measurement system for use in research and clinical applications.

“Renovion and EpiCypher are exceptional, working to take important discoveries made in UNC research and create solutions with live-saving potential,” said Don Rose, director of Venture Services in the University’s Office of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.
Rose will represent both companies at the demonstration day in Washington. Both are based on UNC-Chapel Hill intellectual property and have benefitted from campus resources including a KickStart Commercialization Award and the Carolina Express License.

Organizers said the Washington event represents an opportunity to show how far universities have come in encouraging the growth of ventures that are central to national competitiveness and economic growth.

The United States needs a sustained commitment to education, scientific research and startups to have sustained future success, according to Tony Stanco, NCET2 executive director. American universities are uniquely positioned to deliver on all three to ensure the country maintains its historic leadership position, he said.

Universities play a key role in helping drive the national economy and benefit their home states. Many campuses have hired experts to help students, researchers and alumni create and fund innovative social and for-profit startups. In 2015, UNC-Chapel Hill created a new vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development position to reflect the high priority of this work and to coordinate related efforts across the campus. For more information about innovation and entrepreneurship at UNC-Chapel Hill, please visit

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