DURHAM, NC – December 14, 2011 – NC IDEA, an organization committed to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that it has awarded over $192,000 in grants to five North Carolina startups in its largest and most competitive grant cycle to-date. Since its inception in 2006, NC IDEA’s grants program has awarded over $2.3M to 62 companies across the state, with these most recent awards being the twelfth cycle of the program.

The five grant recipients were chosen after a 4-month application and selection process, which drew over 175 applications from 24 counties across the state. A committee comprised of experienced venture investors, industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs selected 24 companies to submit full proposals which was further narrowed down to eleven finalists who were given the opportunity to pitch their idea in person, ultimately resulting in five winners.

“We were extremely impressed with not only the quantity, but quality of applicants this cycle,” said David Rizzo, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “With each new grant cycle, we are finding it more and more challenging to narrow down the field of applicants because so many are deserving of the money. Ultimately, these five recent winners convinced us that our money would have the most impact funding their startups. We look forward to working alongside these companies and watching them progress over the coming months.”

The following five companies are NC IDEA’s most recent grant recipients for the Fall 2011 cycle:

BoostSuite.com – Durham, NC
BoostSuite is a web marketing optimization product for small businesses. BoostSuite allows novice web marketers to build more website traffic and convert more online visitors into customers and leads for their businesses. Unlike current web marketing optimization products that bewilder and discourage small business users, BoostSuite takes only three minutes to set up, is easy to learn, and can be used by anyone. Learn more at www.boostsuite.com.

Cell Microsystems – Chapel Hill, NC
Cell Microsystems accelerates medical discovery by developing novel research tools supporting the basic research behind scientific and medical innovation. The first product, the IsoRaftTM System, is a revolutionary cell sorting and cell separation technology, available to research labs worldwide.

Clinical Sensors – Chapel Hill, NC
Clinical Sensors is focused on the development and commercialization of nitric oxide sensors for monitoring serious medical conditions. The company’s technology is based on both selective sensor membranes and lab-on-a-chip technologies that enable early risk assessment of diseases and health conditions. Clinical Sensors’ short-term objective is to develop and launch a new point-of-care (POC) device as an aid for sepsis risk assessment. Enabling earlier sepsis diagnosis prior to symptoms has shown to improve patient outcome and substantially reduce healthcare costs.

InfoSense – Charlotte, NC
InfoSense is a cleantech startup that makes a novel acoustic sensing technology for the wastewater collection industry. The technology drastically improves the efficiency of assessing pipes for blockages. The company’s gateway product provides a simple blockage assessment in less than three minutes and for a cost less than one tenth that of existing alternatives. With the ability to inspect pipes more easily, wastewater operators now have the ability to better target pipe cleaning resources – reducing unnecessary professional cleaning costs and helping improve the maintenance of aging sewer infrastructure globally. Learn more at www.infosenseinc.net.

mailVU – Charlotte, NC
mailVU.com is an online video platform that makes it easy for businesses to conduct video marketing: outbound video messaging and distribution, incoming video testimonials, video contests, and video hosting and embedding. Businesses retain complete control over their video portfolio, including branding, distribution, and privacy. mailVU also provides an API for integration into other platforms under their Private Label plan. Learn more at www.mailvu.com.

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.

The upcoming Spring 2012 grant opportunity for North Carolina based companies will open on February 13. Learn more about NC IDEA’s grant application process, timeline and criteria at www.ncidea.org.

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.