News & Insights

NC IDEA FOUNDATION Awards Total of $400,000 to Eight North Carolina Startups

Most Diverse Representation and Most Number of SEED Grants Awarded in One Cycle

DURHAM, NC – May 13, 2021 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, announced today that the organization has awarded $400,000 in seed grants to eight North Carolina startups. Since its inception in 2006, the NC IDEA SEED grant program has awarded over $7.5M in non-dilutive grants to 169 innovative companies across the state, with these most recent awards being the 31st cycle of the program.

“Just two weeks following our announcement of a record number of 19 MICRO grant recipients, we have now awarded the most SEED grants in one of the most competitive cycles to date,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO and President of NC IDEA. “Even more promising, is seeing our work to support equitable economic development through entrepreneurship and expand our statewide funding footprint directly reflected in the under-served communities represented in this diverse cohort,” Ruhe added.

The following eight Spring 2021 NC IDEA SEED grant recipients were chosen after a three-month competitive application and selection process that drew 174 applications from across the state:

Active Defender – Carthage, NC
Active Defender is a campus emergency tool that saves time and saves lives.

BatteryXchange – Charlotte, NC
BatteryXchange is a charging platform that connects people, businesses and communities to things that matter to each entity the most.

Couplet Care – Durham, NC
Couplet Care offers tools for improving patient safety and clinical efficiency while promoting positive mother and infant health outcomes.

Darë Vegan Cheese – Asheville, NC
Using the same traditional cheesemaking techniques, sans dairy, Darë Vegan Cheese creates an amazing, artisan, aged, alternative.

PROTECT3D – Durham, NC
PROTECT3D leverages 3D technology to give medical professionals the ability to provide fully custom protective devices.

Smart Girls HQ – Charlotte, NC
Smart Girls HQ creates engaging content and facilitates exciting experiences that enable elementary-aged girls to achieve STEM Career Literacy by age 12.

Stemz – Winston-Salem, NC
Stemz connects local flower farms to floral designers.

Your Minute Mechanic – Winterville, NC
Your Minute Mechanic provides convenient, low cost self-service auto diagnostics helping people navigate costly car repairs every day.

NC IDEA SEED offers early stage companies the critical funding they need to scale faster. The $50,000 grants are awarded to innovative startups with a proven concept, even if they are not yet profitable. The funds, along with mentorship and guidance, push companies forward and reduce the risk associated with these nascent firms.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at