Grant Recipients Selected from Diverse NC IDEA SEED Applicant Pool

 DURHAM, NC – November 15, 2018 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that the organization has awarded $250,000 in seed grants to five North Carolina startups from a diverse NC IDEA SEED applicant pool. Since its inception in 2006, the NC IDEA SEED program has awarded nearly $6M in non-dilutive grants to 136 innovative companies across the state, with these most recent awards being the 26th cycle of the program.

“This newest cohort of NC IDEA SEED grant recipients is a great representation of the breadth of entrepreneurship across the state,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “Our continued expansion and growing partnerships across the state resulted in an eclectic and diverse group of companies that are positioned to quickly grow, create jobs and positively impact the state’s economy,” added Ruhe.

The following five NC IDEA SEED grant recipients were chosen after a four-month competitive application and selection process that drew 158 applications from across the state:

Bear Fiber – Winston-Salem, NC
Bear Fiber provides natural and fully “cottonized” hemp fiber for textile and apparel design, development and production. “Cottonized” fiber is in a state that can be easily spun into yarn-like cotton.

Courtroom5 – Durham, NC
Courtroom5 makes effective pro se litigants by providing automated, customized legal assistance on strategy, direction and execution of litigation procedures. They use machine intelligence, project management tools, self-serve training and an online community to prepare pro se litigants to represent themselves effectively in civil court and to profitably consume a la carte legal services.

ExLattice – Raleigh, NC
ExLattice is developing computer-aided design and engineering (CAD/CAE) software for 3D printing that can replace the expertise-intensive trial and error with automated simulation and optimization in just several mouse clicks. This ensures printing success in a user-friendly fashion and cuts weeks off the design cycle to just hours while also saving tens of thousands of dollars.

Phinite – Tar Heel, NC
Phinite makes renewable organic fertilizer from manure on big animal farms. Their proprietary, patent-pending Sludge Treatment Wetland technology allows the company to do this more than 90% cheaper than the competition.

Vizla – Charlotte, NC
Vizla eliminates the confusion and time that construction workers waste searching for information on a jobsite by providing easy and simple access to construction plans and information with a simple scan. This use of technology allows the general contractor to build faster, make less errors and increase profits.

NC IDEA SEED is a catalyst for breakthroughs developed in North Carolina that have a significant potential to successfully transition into commercially viable high-growth enterprises. The seed grants support a variety of activities for the growth of nascent firms. In addition to the funding, grant recipients will also benefit from mentoring by successful entrepreneurs and experienced investors; use of MBA fellows; in-kind services from attorneys, accountants and marketing consultants; public recognition and access to growth capital.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina. Today, the organization fulfills this mission through a strategic combination of competitive grants and programs. NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM funds organizations across the state that execute creative programs to support entrepreneurs. Similarly, NC IDEA ENGAGE is a community-focused grant program supporting individuals and organizations that facilitate entrepreneurship activity. Over the last decade, the NC IDEA SEED program has awarded nearly $6 million in non-dilutive grants to 136 growth-oriented companies across the state, and most recently awarded nearly $150,000 in 15 micro-grants through a pilot program. Since 2011, over 150 companies have participated in NC IDEA LABS, formerly Groundwork Labs, to guide founders developing an idea or product. NC IDEA SOAR, a program founded in 2012, supports female entrepreneurs leading scalable businesses in raising capital through mentorship, strategic advice and connections. NC IDEA LEAD, the Foundation’s newest program, provides leadership training for founders of high-growth companies. Learn more at