Durham, NC – June 10, 2008 – NC IDEA has recently awarded $183,200 in grants to six early-stage companies throughout North Carolina in the spring cycle of its bi-annual grant program. These awards are the fifth cycle of the grant program

Since its inception in early 2006, this program has seen over 375 applications and awarded approximately $1M to twenty-seven companies in North Carolina. NC IDEA targets companies who need help crossing the chasm between initial product development and venture capital funding.

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 self-sustainability when suitable for private equity investors.

The following companies are the Spring 2008 grant recipients:

iCustom – provides an online customization platform that connects clothing designers, consumers and manufacturers. Designers can quickly and cost-effectively offer their creative designs to consumers, consumers can order cut-to-fit clothing, and manufacturers are directly connected to customers (consumers and designers). iCustom will initially target the plus size, Big and Tall and little people markets.

Jute Networks – Asheville based company offers a network relationship management software application. Designed for professionals, the software brings together web based collaboration, social network analysis and data visualization and is offered as a web based on-demand solution.

MBright – provides a pocket projector product based on the MBright next generation Liquid Crystal on Silicon microdisplay. MBright will offer pocket size projectors and embedded projectors in portable electronic devices.

Next Ray -offer next generation x-ray machines that provide a detailed diagnostic image with low radiation exposure. Next Ray will initially offer a 2D infant imaging machine and a 3D pediatric CT machine.

Physcient – a surgical instrument company offers a smart surgical retractor for use in thoracic and cardio-thoracic surgery. The iOpener TM decreases patient pain experienced as a result of open-chest surgery.

Valencell – offer the Healthset®, a compact, wearable device that measures vital signs and physical activity. Personalized assessments of overall health, fitness, and calories burned can be viewed on a smart phone, mp3 player or computer.