Durham, NC – July 19, 2010 – NC IDEA, an organization committed to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina, proudly announced today that it has awarded $190,000 in grants to five North Carolina startups. Since its inception in 2006, NC IDEA’s grants program has awarded approximately $1.7M to forty-seven companies across the state, with these most recent awards being the ninth cycle of the program.

NC IDEA’s grants program is a catalyst for technological breakthroughs developed in North Carolina that have a significant potential to successfully transition into commercially viable high-growth enterprises. The grants, which are up to $50,000 per recipient, support business plan research and development, reduce risk of early failure and advance projects to the point of suitability for angel or venture capital investment. In addition to the funding, NC IDEA and its network of seasoned business and technology partners mentor and guide the grant recipients through the complex growth cycles that young companies encounter, while also connecting the startups with other investors, institutions and business leaders to maximize their prospects for commercial success.

“We are excited about this group of recent recipients and look forward to seeing their progress over the coming months,” said David Rizzo, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “This was a competitive cycle with approximately 110 applicants and these five companies impressed our review committee. Continuing to fund young companies like these most recent winners is critical to North Carolina’s job growth and economic development.”

The following five companies are NC IDEA’s most recent grant recipients for the Spring 2010 cycle:

BioShape Solutions – RTP, NC
BioShape is developing medical devices that permit simple and effective local delivery of therapeutic agents around surgical implants. The company’s initial products are focused on delivering antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of orthopaedic implant infections. The combined treatment of these implant-associated infections costs the U.S. healthcare system nearly $2 billion annually. Learn more at www.bioshapesolutions.com.

The Coaching Mark – Morrisville, NC
The Coaching Mark (TCM) provides a Software-as-a-Service platform dedicated to Helping Youth Thrive through athletics. TCM works with scholastic athletic programs, offering holistic team management tools to the coaches and Athletic Directors, and provides athletes and their families a wide range of tools, content and exclusive offers to foster their athletic and life skill development. Learn more at www.thecoachingmark.com.

Cooperative Entertainment, Inc. – Raleigh, NC
Cooperative Entertainment is developing a technology, service and marketing platform based on the tracking and utilization of idle or spare CPU capacity during online computer and video game sessions. A free software API called JoosyCloud is being developed for developers and publishers to incorporate into their games that aggregates spare CPU capacity within these games and leases them to corporate, academic and government customers. Learn more at www.joosycloud.com.

Open Connect Corporation – Charlotte, NC
Open Connect Corporation develops and markets ezFoodOrder, a web-based application that streamlines the nation’s $175 billion foodservice distribution industry. By allowing foodservice distributors to easily compete for restaurant business, ezFoodOrder reduces food costs for restaurant operators by 15% on average. Because restaurant profit margins are thin (5% on average) and food costs are substantial (roughly 33% of revenue), the result is a 50% to 80% boost in bottom-line profitability for restaurant customers. Learn more at www.ezfoodorder.com.

Patagonia Health – Cary, NC
Patagonia Health’s easy to use Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software is designed specifically for small physician practices. The web-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) EMR provides 6X cost savings, 10X delivery and 20X support advantage compared with legacy client server EMR architecture. In addition to the convenience of anytime, anywhere web access, physician practices benefit from low monthly subscription pricing enabled by the SaaS business model. Patagonia Health is transforming healthcare IT by bringing efficiency to small physician practices while improving patient care. Learn more at www.patagoniahealth.com.

The upcoming Fall grant opportunity for North Carolina based companies will open in late August 2010. Learn more about NC IDEA’s grant application process and criteria at www.ncidea.org. Between now and the opening of the next cycle, take the Eligibility Quiz to see if your company qualifies and pre-register online within NC IDEA’s grants management system.

NC IDEA, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, targets promising technology companies that need help bridging the gap between initial product development and venture capital funding. The organization helps young, innovative companies mainly by providing early financing in the form of grants. NC IDEA further supports its grant winning companies by leveraging the organization’s solid partnerships and strategic alliances to assist companies through research phases, business challenges and growth goals. Learn more at www.ncidea.org.