Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

EncepHeal Therapeutic’s Financial Pipeline

Saturday, August 5, 2017 3:01 pm

It all began a couple of years ago in 2015, at the Neuro Startup Challenge, a competition hosted by the Center for Advancing Innovation. With the winning innovative idea to use modafinil anaologues for treating stimulant addiction, EncepHeal Therapeutics was given the opportunity to in-license these analogues, synthesized by a chemist from NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse). With the company now off the ground, next began the search for accelerators and grants to fund the initial seed stage of their business plan.

Accelerators are funded programs offered to startup business teams as a chance to win seed funding and gain mentorship to “accelerate” the initial stage of business development. EncepHeal Therapeutics was a finalist among 8 teams in the 2016 New Ventures Challenge, run by Flywheel in Winston-Salem. The 12-week rigorous program consisted of business professionals providing their expertise in product development, sales, marketing, and funding strategies. In addition to this came an average $50,000 per startup team.

With EncepHeal Therapeutics looking to start their pre-clinical studies in 2017, greater funds were warranted. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a government-funded program that helps small businesses with their research and development (R&D). The program is divided into three phases, with the first phase aimed at funding feasibility and proof of concept, phase II aimed at funding research and development, and the third phase for commercialization. At the end of April 2017, EncepHeal Therapeutics was awarded a Phase I SBIR grant worth $300,000 to begin its pre-clinical screening assays, which has recently commenced. To help expedite this pipeline to Phase II, EncepHeal will use the $65,000 awarded by the NC Small Business Program in May, 2017.

I began my internship with EncepHeal Therapeutics at about the time when their drug screening assays were initiated. This has given me a neat perspective at seeing how and what sorts of funding is sought out for the initial stage of their drug development model, as well as for the prospective milestones. Funding for the future stages will come from venture capital funds, investors, grants, and possible non-traditional funding sources. Stay tuned to learn more about dilute and non-dilutive funding!



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